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!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Eclipse chasing in the Arctic?

This March, a total solar eclipse takes place in the North Atlantic. Land viewing locations are limited. The Faroe Islands (between Ireland and Iceland) are a good place to visit, but the weather is a gamble. Another landmass that enjoys totality is Svalbard. This location is more difficult to reach and even more difficult to get accommodation - it is not a tourist destination under normal circumstances.

I am NOT going to this eclipse. Not by land, by sea, nor in the air. There are still some vendors with space available if this sort of eclipse travel sparks an interest. The thing is, the weather is not favorable. Thus the best bet is in the air. And chasing eclipses from the air is an expensive proposition. Flights will be coming in from the UK, Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany, and Iceland. We can only hope they collide!

Even though I will not be there, I can still have fun with the idea of being there. A suite of cartoon/comics about eclipse chasing in the cold are presented online at - enjoy and if you are going, best luck!!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Eclipse and Astronomy Cartoons

Many of the cartoons shown at the SEC2014 are now online at:

These cartoons cover a variety of topics related to eclipse chasing. Some poke fun at eclipse chasers, others at the situations we find ourselves in, and others at the poorly informed who wonder about the eclipse in a casual way.

If you have ideas for eclipse cartoons, a funny story to relate, or a special request - drop me a line or response to this blog and let me know.

Friday, 7 November 2014


We had a lot of fun at the Solar Eclipse Conference (SEC2014) in New Mexico, USA. The Sacramento Peak Observatory opened their doors to us for a two day pre-conference and to observe the partial solar eclipse. Very clear sky up on the mountain and great presentations made for the perfect venue to kick off the eclipse conference.
Sacramento Peak National Solar Observatory, partial solar eclipse watching!

The last two days of the conference were in Cloudcroft NM, a resort town near Sacramento Peak. More presentations and discussion took place highlighting current trends in eclipse photography, various projects underway, solar science, and planning for the next eclipses.

The web pages for the conference are being actively updated to include presentation materials such as powerpoint and pdf files from the various presenters. The on going support is appreciated!

Also, keep an eye out! Soon the SEC2018 details will begin to appear.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Lunar Eclipse October 2014

Got up early to see the total lunar eclipse expecting clouds and rain. Instead I was rewarded with a nice clear sky, freshly "washed" by hard rain. It was chilly and humid, but the Moon hung brightly in the sky.

My new binoculars, 15x70, saw their first umbra - just the Earth's on the Moon and not from the Moon. Still the view was fantastic. These big eyes will work well for a TSE! Hefty and waterproof (so they say, not going to test it) they are a bit much to hold steady for long. But for quick views they work fine and I do have a tripod adapter.

The Moon moved to an area that I could no longer see it from our front area (trees) and I had to go out in the parking lot (well lit) to see it. The view was great. To the left one could pick out Uranus with the binoculars and I was please to see it appeared in the image linked in hi-res below.

Image of total lunar eclipse 1.8s exposure with Sony 5N on tripod.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Tecumseh and the Eclipse of 1806

I updated the webpage with the story about Tecumseh and the 1806 total solar eclipse. Maps showing that location of the village used by Tecumseh and his brother were not in the central path are now included. The location of the village would have shown a 99% total and while impressive, it does not have the impact of a total solar eclipse.

Eclipses viewed along the edge of the central path are prolonged diamond rings. A 99% eclipse can be full of beads as the Sun shines through valleys and is blocked by mountains. One might also catch a glimpse of the corona on the opposite side of the beads/sliver of sunlight however it is difficult and potentially dangerous.

In 2017 a total solar eclipse will cross the USA. Should your home location be in the 90% or greater range plan to move to the central path for the full eclipse effect. Remember, you will see a 90% and greater partial in the path of totality!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Tossed the frames

The frames interface was giving grief to myself and others, so it has been tossed/removed/deleted in favor for the iPad/tablet interface table style.

All entries to now go to the Map.

I am always open to ideas to improve the webpages. Just let me know what you think.