I have been busy making some changes to the www.eclipse-chasers.com 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.
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
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!