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Travel (flight friendly) gear for photographing the eclipse

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#1 swaroopshere

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Posted 05 May 2023 - 11:03 AM

Hello,

    I had the luxury of driving up to capture the 2017 eclipse and could haul heavy equipment to the site - Paramount Myt + Stellarvue 102 ED + accessories. No such luck or opportunity in 2024, since I will be flying out to Mazatlan. Im beginning to think about gear thats light enough as well as sturdy enough to be able to capture the eclipse. 

  •  FRA 400 + rings + dovetail
  • Canon 7d
  • Solar filter
  • mount + tripod.

400mm with a crop sensor, i think, should be good enough to capture the corona, probably a stretch for prominences or baileys beads. My biggest uncertainty is with an appropriate travel capable mount thats not too heavy, but sturdy enough to track the sun for upto 2-3 hours. Im ok if I skip some partial captures, main goal is to be able to capture the totality. 

Given that, Im thinking something like an IOptron skyguider type tracker should be good enough? (I do have the skytracker, but I think its got a capacity of 6 lbs, whereas the FRA400 + canon 7d + filters + dovetail/rings will go to around 10-11 lbs). What other alternatives should I consider?


Edited by swaroopshere, 05 May 2023 - 11:04 AM.


#2 emh52

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Posted 05 May 2023 - 02:58 PM

Hello,

    I had the luxury of driving up to capture the 2017 eclipse and could haul heavy equipment to the site - Paramount Myt + Stellarvue 102 ED + accessories. No such luck or opportunity in 2024, since I will be flying out to Mazatlan. Im beginning to think about gear thats light enough as well as sturdy enough to be able to capture the eclipse. 

  •  FRA 400 + rings + dovetail
  • Canon 7d
  • Solar filter
  • mount + tripod.

400mm with a crop sensor, i think, should be good enough to capture the corona, probably a stretch for prominences or baileys beads. My biggest uncertainty is with an appropriate travel capable mount thats not too heavy, but sturdy enough to track the sun for upto 2-3 hours. Im ok if I skip some partial captures, main goal is to be able to capture the totality. 

Given that, Im thinking something like an IOptron skyguider type tracker should be good enough? (I do have the skytracker, but I think its got a capacity of 6 lbs, whereas the FRA400 + canon 7d + filters + dovetail/rings will go to around 10-11 lbs). What other alternatives should I consider?

consider the skywatcher solar mount. carries 11.5 lb works well, that is my plan for my questar- I have shot many days of Sunspots  with it and I’ll give it an eclipse test for the annular in 2023. It has a conventional tripod mount so my gitzo carbon does the trick and being 4 piece legs folds small and light. The batteries last long enough if fresh. Before or after the eclipse you can carry a small solar scope and amplify the use.


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#3 swaroopshere

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Posted 05 May 2023 - 05:29 PM

consider the skywatcher solar mount. carries 11.5 lb works well, that is my plan for my questar- I have shot many days of Sunspots  with it and I’ll give it an eclipse test for the annular in 2023. It has a conventional tripod mount so my gitzo carbon does the trick and being 4 piece legs folds small and light. The batteries last long enough if fresh. Before or after the eclipse you can carry a small solar scope and amplify the use.

Interesting. Thank you for the suggestion! I had not considered Alt-Az mount before. The Skywatcher solar mount looks like its literally made for solar. Field rotation was the first thing that came to my mind with this mount, but considering the totality is going to last just under 4 mins, and the longest exposures would likely not go beyond 2-3 seconds, it will not be noticeable at all. How easy is it to switch OTAs without disturbing the tracking or requiring to rebalance? Im tempted to keep just the imaging equipment on it and not fiddle with it during the eclipse.



#4 emh52

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Posted 05 May 2023 - 06:36 PM

Interesting. Thank you for the suggestion! I had not considered Alt-Az mount before. The Skywatcher solar mount looks like its literally made for solar. Field rotation was the first thing that came to my mind with this mount, but considering the totality is going to last just under 4 mins, and the longest exposures would likely not go beyond 2-3 seconds, it will not be noticeable at all. How easy is it to switch OTAs without disturbing the tracking or requiring to rebalance? Im tempted to keep just the imaging equipment on it and not fiddle with it during the eclipse.

The mount has a Vixen mount and a single screw to secure it so swithcing is easy but without a second security screw perhaps less safe that I would like. It works well that is its strong point. I am of the dont switch out expensive gear during en event school of thought, if I have my questar or a small apo on it I will leave it there for the event. Too easy to make a mistake in haste, I’d rather invest in a second drive if I thought I wanted to run two different scopes. For the Sun most exposures are short, and I adjust the camera to make it short so the alt az isnt an issue. I have not had a problem stacking video of a 1 min or so using the mount. I will be using this mount for the annular this year and I imagine it will work as well as it has for the full Sun imagery I have captured.


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#5 Yellowstone

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Posted 08 May 2023 - 09:54 AM

consider the skywatcher solar mount. carries 11.5 lb works well, that is my plan for my questar- I have shot many days of Sunspots  with it and I’ll give it an eclipse test for the annular in 2023. It has a conventional tripod mount so my gitzo carbon does the trick and being 4 piece legs folds small and light. The batteries last long enough if fresh. Before or after the eclipse you can carry a small solar scope and amplify the use.

How are you mounting the Questar to the Skywatcher? This sounds like a great mount for an eclipse.



#6 emh52

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Posted 08 May 2023 - 10:49 AM

How are you mounting the Questar to the Skywatcher? This sounds like a great mount for an eclipse.

I have a duplex with a Zerodur mirror (bought to optimize for Solar for Venus transit and it went high on the mountain in  Hawaii for historic and for viewing potential reasons)

I have used this setup many many times -  and it travels-  this is on a roof deck in anchorage

 

so the Q is going in a camera backpack, I can ship the mount and the gitzo tripod in luggage-  light and easy

Attached Thumbnails

  • queatar solar.jpg

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#7 N-1

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Posted 11 May 2023 - 05:07 PM

I flew to Australia for last month's TSE with this. FS-60, 1.04x flattener, 6D and iOptron Skyguider. It worked brilliantly. Everything but the tripod (Manfrotto 055) and counter weight kit was in my carry-on bag (a Lowe Flipside 500). That bag also held the video rig, a Lumix GH5 and FMA 180 and a couple of mini tripods that would have allowed at least some untracked photography if the checked bag had gone missing. Easy peasy.

 

The FS-60 was working at 370mm focal length. The 6D has a full-frame sensor. Working on the data, I can see the corona bascially extending to the frame edge. 400mm on a crop sensor will not get you the full outer corona. It's a big target. However the framing in general is still pretty nice with that FoV with the added benefit of greater resolution for the proms and inner corona.

Attached Thumbnails

  • TSE230420260mmMR.jpg

Edited by N-1, 11 May 2023 - 05:32 PM.

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#8 foxwoodastronomy

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Posted 11 May 2023 - 09:35 PM

I flew to Australia for last month's TSE with this. FS-60, 1.04x flattener, 6D and iOptron Skyguider. It worked brilliantly. Everything but the tripod (Manfrotto 055) and counter weight kit was in my carry-on bag (a Lowe Flipside 500). That bag also held the video rig, a Lumix GH5 and FMA 180 and a couple of mini tripods that would have allowed at least some untracked photography if the checked bag had gone missing. Easy peasy.

 

The FS-60 was working at 370mm focal length. The 6D has a full-frame sensor. Working on the data, I can see the corona bascially extending to the frame edge. 400mm on a crop sensor will not get you the full outer corona. It's a big target. However the framing in general is still pretty nice with that FoV with the added benefit of greater resolution for the proms and inner corona.

Hi N-1, will you be posting pictures here, or anywhere else, of the corona out to the edges of a 370mm FOV. That would be fun to see.  Thanks, Gordon.



#9 N-1

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Posted 12 May 2023 - 03:24 AM

Sure. Here's a stretched uncropped 1-second frame. Not pretty but the details I was after are in it. However the streamer at the bottom left extends beyond the frame and I suspect so does the one near the top once all data is processed. Under good conditions like these and a bigger umbra like in 2024 (meaning a darker sky), the short side of your FoV had better be 4° or more if recording the full corona is the aim.

Attached Thumbnails

  • _MG_0700.jpg

Edited by N-1, 12 May 2023 - 04:02 AM.


#10 foxwoodastronomy

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Posted 12 May 2023 - 05:29 AM

Sure. Here's a stretched uncropped 1-second frame. Not pretty but the details I was after are in it. However the streamer at the bottom left extends beyond the frame and I suspect so does the one near the top once all data is processed. Under good conditions like these and a bigger umbra like in 2024 (meaning a darker sky), the short side of your FoV had better be 4° or more if recording the full corona is the aim.

N-1, thanks!  The reason it's important to me is my history of eclipses and what I teach novices right now.  When I went to my first one in 2001, using slide film, eclipse photographers were planning to work at 800 to 1000mm.  With today's modern cameras with digital sensors, I tell complete novices with regular telephoto lenses to try to work at about 600 to 800mm.  Most novices are not going to have a quality telescope system like the FS-60 (which is also what I use), may not guide, will not have really long exposures, and will probably not do technical processing.  But it has occurred to me that I should make sure I emphasize clearly that the shorter focal lengths are perfectly fine.  At the last two eclipses, I was using my FS-60 with the Q extender and a cropped sensor so I was working at 900mm.  In 2024 I will use a full-frame sensor and work at 600mm.  But overall, what I tell novices is still valid. Thanks again.


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#11 emh52

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Posted 13 May 2023 - 07:01 AM

N-1, thanks!  The reason it's important to me is my history of eclipses and what I teach novices right now.  When I went to my first one in 2001, using slide film, eclipse photographers were planning to work at 800 to 1000mm.  With today's modern cameras with digital sensors, I tell complete novices with regular telephoto lenses to try to work at about 600 to 800mm.  Most novices are not going to have a quality telescope system like the FS-60 (which is also what I use), may not guide, will not have really long exposures, and will probably not do technical processing.  But it has occurred to me that I should make sure I emphasize clearly that the shorter focal lengths are perfectly fine.  At the last two eclipses, I was using my FS-60 with the Q extender and a cropped sensor so I was working at 900mm.  In 2024 I will use a full-frame sensor and work at 600mm.  But overall, what I tell novices is still valid. Thanks again.

I agree somewhere close to 600 mm is perfect with a full frame- past eclipse, I observed in Montebello islands off Australia I used a 400 mm Nikon Z lens (95 mm diameter)with a 1.4X stopped down to a telescope equiv of f7.1- worked quite well and nicely compact. In 2017 I used a 380 mm FL 100 mm diameter Vixen astrograph that also worked well. Any quality camera and lens/telescope system should be good to go. I tell people practice on a full Moon, it is about the same illumination as totality and look critically at the detail of the images of the Moon, plan the central bracket at full Moon optimum and then go from there. I will go to 1400 mm for an annular eclipse with a telescope (like my Questar) rather than a camera lens since there is no corona and the edge of the moon roughness, and sunspots/activity is the goal.

 

a few images from the past eclipse being a hybrid the chromosphere was visible around the edge of the occulting Moon -  the main goal of my photography being brief I took few corona shots and more chromosphere shots

Attached Thumbnails

  • cn eclipse.jpg
  • cn corona.jpg
  • cn hybrid.jpg

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#12 gordtulloch

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Posted 23 May 2023 - 01:41 PM

I'll have an Evolux 62ED for corona shots on a Skywatcher SolarQuest mount and a C90 for disk shots on a Skywatcher AZ-GTi, all of which fits in a large suitcase with a playwood frame to keep things seperated and everything embedded in foam. Camera-wise I'll have a ASI294MC and a Canon 1100.



#13 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 04 October 2023 - 06:42 PM

Hello,

    I had the luxury of driving up to capture the 2017 eclipse and could haul heavy equipment to the site - Paramount Myt + Stellarvue 102 ED + accessories. No such luck or opportunity in 2024, since I will be flying out to Mazatlan. Im beginning to think about gear thats light enough as well as sturdy enough to be able to capture the eclipse. 

  •  FRA 400 + rings + dovetail
  • Canon 7d
  • Solar filter
  • mount + tripod.

400mm with a crop sensor, i think, should be good enough to capture the corona, probably a stretch for prominences or baileys beads. My biggest uncertainty is with an appropriate travel capable mount thats not too heavy, but sturdy enough to track the sun for upto 2-3 hours. Im ok if I skip some partial captures, main goal is to be able to capture the totality. 

Given that, Im thinking something like an IOptron skyguider type tracker should be good enough? (I do have the skytracker, but I think its got a capacity of 6 lbs, whereas the FRA400 + canon 7d + filters + dovetail/rings will go to around 10-11 lbs). What other alternatives should I consider?

You need to read the fine print.  At least for American Airlines, the airline is NOT RESPONSIBLE for any damages or loss caused to electronic or photographic equipment.  They have a long list of specific types of items they will not be held responsible for if they lose or damage them.  If they lose your bag or destroy your gear, there is nothing you can do about it since you agreed to the terms of service when you purchased your ticket.  Any expensive gear you might have to check into luggage you should ship instead with shipping insurance so that it is covered for loss or damage in transit.



#14 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 04 October 2023 - 06:45 PM

Interesting. Thank you for the suggestion! I had not considered Alt-Az mount before. The Skywatcher solar mount looks like its literally made for solar. Field rotation was the first thing that came to my mind with this mount, but considering the totality is going to last just under 4 mins, and the longest exposures would likely not go beyond 2-3 seconds, it will not be noticeable at all. How easy is it to switch OTAs without disturbing the tracking or requiring to rebalance? Im tempted to keep just the imaging equipment on it and not fiddle with it during the eclipse.

The Sky-Watcher SolarQuest is definitely the best mount for Solar eclipses.  I do not recommend removing the optical tube while it is tracking though.  It could be damaged that way.  You should turn it off before removing the optical tube.  That is something you should ask Sky-Watcher directly about especially if it might void your warranty as improper use.


Edited by Nicole Sharp, 04 October 2023 - 06:46 PM.




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