Wednesday, 8 July 2015

In just two years... USA Solar Eclipse

On the 21st of August 2017, there will be a total solar eclipse in the USA. This eclipse is expected to draw thousands and thousands. It is therefor essential that we put some thought into planning where and how to get there and where to stay now. And that is what Denise and I are doing now. But first we want to experience the country side along the eclipse path and I decided a blog about what we find along the way might be useful.

Last October we had a solar eclipse conference and the upcoming eclipse in the USA was discussed at length by several presenters. I found Nebraska to especially appealing for a number of reasons.

1) Movement - there are interstate highways going through Nebraska that are inside the central path. This presents a real challenge for the eclipse. By no means should anyone stop along the road for the eclipse. That is a recipe for disaster. Best to head to a rest area and those are expected to fill up early. A better idea is to proceed to an exit, get off, and locate at the edge of a parking lot if doing this all at the last second.

2) Sky - this is big sky country with a rolling terrain. Although the eclipsed Sun will be high in the sky (about 60 degrees up from the horizon) and terrain will not be a major factor, it is the wide open spaces.

3) Kramer - and we found a place called Kramer that needs a visit to see if it is a good place to observe. There is a bar and grill there, so it shows real promise.

More details as our travel plans are solidified. At this point it looks like we will be moving through the area during the first week of August.

-Bill webmaster

Friday, 24 April 2015

Multiple Solar Eclipse path display tool

I have added yet another utility that shows multiple paths. This version shows a bunch of paths with no calculator interface. That way you can show a Saros series or all your eclipse paths. I am interested in knowing if anyone else uses this utility. What features would you like me to add? Eclipse paths are color coded and you can select anywhere on the path to see what the date of the path. The utility only shows the path of total and/or annular solar eclipses.

Recent change: When you display individual eclipse chasers history as "Map only", the paths are included. Check out Glenn Schneider's map! That is a lot of eclipses.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Comparing Eclipse Paths

A little while ago a request was made to show two eclipse paths on the same map. The incentive is that in 2017 and 2024 there are total solar eclipse paths across the continental United States. Where can one be to see both? What about other pairs of eclipses?

So here is a web page that can do eclipse pairs on a single Google map. When you select a point or move the cursor the local circumstances are calculated and displayed for each of the eclipse paths. You can select any pair.

Any ideas on how to improve this utility are appreciated!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

More Lunar Eclipse Images

Prime Focus Questar, image inverted by telescope optics
We could only see a partial lunar eclipse 4 April 2015 from the beach in Negril Jamaica, but we had a wonderful view.

250mm Lens on Sony NEX 5N

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Updates and a Partial Lunar Eclipse

Webpage Changes
I have been busy making some changes to the web site. Stamps from the Faroe Islands and Svalbard have been added to the collections, images and reports from the recent solar eclipse across those areas are in the gallery for TSE 2015, and a new navigational tool has been added to most of the web pages.

Navigation Tool added to most web page mast heads.

Using a desktop or laptop hover over the entries to see the fly out menus grow to the left. Click on one of the options to go directly to that page.

Let me know if there are any platform specific problems. So far this has been tested using Safari and Chrome on the Macintosh and Safari on the iPad.

Partial Lunar Eclipse
Other eclipse related news is that a partial lunar eclipse was visible from the beaches of Negril Jamaica just the other day. We had a lovely clear sky as the Moon set in partial eclipse.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

March 2015 Total Solar Eclipse

It was a success for many, a dismal failure for others. Reports have been appearing in various locations - the SEML (Solar Eclipse Mailing List - a group in Yahoo), on FaceBook, and Eclipse-Chasers.Com

Here is a list of who saw the eclipse and their recorded observations.

Successes were seen on the frozen landscape of Svalbard in northern Norway while clouds frustrated chasers who had gone to more temperate Faroe Islands. In the air there were at least half a dozen eclipse flights and most reported success. Aircraft that took off in humid conditions did have some windows fog and ice over as has happened on past eclipse flights.

Modern cameras continue to produce improved eclipse images as well. Small portable Go Pro type cameras provided amazing video of the shadow crossing the sky and landscape while digital cameras take your breath away with details of the inner corona and prominences. The only issues reported were the extreme cold of Svalbard draining batteries and causing automatic focus devices to fail. This was to be somewhat expected given the weather conditions.

Next year things should be a lot easier as the eclipse occurs in the tropical areas when crossing land. (Once again, the majority of the eclipse path falls over the sea.) Click here for more details concerning TSE2016.

Clear sky!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Cold Eclipse Photography

Those going to the Faroe Islands or Svalbard to observe the TSE this March will face cold temperatures, even if the sky is clear and the Sun out (which we certainly hope is the case). Cold weather presents challenges not only for the person, but also for any photographic equipment dragged along.

Most consumer electronics are not built to operate in cold temperatures. Variable materials may contract at different sizes resulting in the system not operating. I have heard of battery failures, SD cards not connecting, automatic focus freezes, shutter lock ups, and so on. These problems can be exasperated by taking the equipment in and out of the warmth as variable humidity could cause fogging of lens or worse, freezing components.

If the humidity is low, as it is most of the time in the cold, then water vapor will probably not be a major problem. That said, freezing and thawing of the equipment can still cause issues, and some may be permanent such as cracking or loss of glue integrity.

This past winter was a good time to test your equipment in cold weather operations. Maybe you found a solution? Here are a couple I know of from various sources.

- Hand warmers. Chemical hand warmers work great, as hand warmers. When it is very cold, they don't work very well unless near the warmth of your body. Keeping a hand warmer in your inside pockets might work and provides a nice place to keep the battery warm. Batteries tend to drain quickly in the cold.

- Battery warmers. Batteries do not like cold weather but a well designed battery warmer will do the trick. I have battery heated socks that I've used in the past to wrap camera battery cells (and film back in the day). Having extra batteries, inside a warm place, for the warmer is a good idea.

- Have an extra battery. This is a good idea for any camera to be used for eclipse photography. And make sure it is fully charged the night before. Keep it in a warm place until needed.

I hope the sky is clear for everyone and that the equipment behaves flawlessly. Good luck to all!