Sunday, 20 March 2016

Website updates March 2016

After a long series of flights and airport time I am slowly adapting to time back on this side of the world again. Not that it matters too much, it is just that things are easier to deal with in the daylight when people are at work and so on.

Some updates to the website took place over the past week. Here is a summary.

References - I found several dead links in the references and added a new one. Fred Espenak has created a new site called EclipseWise and it is a cool set of tools for eclipse predictions.

TSE2016 Reports and Images - A summary report, images, and links to other reports are now posted. If you know of a link that should be added, please let me know and I will do it.

Who saw the TSE2016? - Map and list of eclipse chasers who were in the path of the shadow in March 2016.

Cartoons about Eclipse Chasing by Aircraft - A new cartoon lampooning the possible problems of too many eFlights.

Cartoons about Eclipse Chasing by Ship - a new cartoon about the management of eclipse cruises.

I am sure there will be more coming soon.

By the way, during the eclipse of March 9/8 2016 an interesting glitch occurred for those wanting to post results right away. You couldn't. Sorry about that. The reason is kind of amusing, albeit a bit nerdy technical. You see the server for this web site is located in the Eastern Time Zone of the USA. As the eclipse finished and loggers attempted to add data, the system said it was not the right date and that eclipse was not available. This situation lasted for a day and then the eclipse was available. Okay, not that critical, but I will fix it before the next event. Sheesh, that date line thing got my sleep screwed up as well as the eclipse-chasers server programs.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Canon Powershot SX60HS 65x Solar Eclipse results

The most recent TSE in Indonesia was a long travel and to cut space I did something I've never done before. I did NOT bring a tripod. But I still took pictures. Using a Canon Powershot 65x hand held was a gamble and most of the shots did not turn out well - as expected. BUT some came out great and I can say I am pleased.

To use the camera for totality I did not just rely on the standard camera settings. I turned off the automatic flash. This is important. I ignored the request from the camera to raise the flash. Another thing I did was go to the fixed aperture setting mode. I could use the dial to change exposures and the lens would remain at the fastest possible focal ratio (focal length over objective size) - wide open. I also set the ISO/ASA to 100. A bit slower than recommended by most photographers however I found it produced cleaner images with the Canon. The last major thing I did was manual focus. Setting manual focus (at infinity) using the dial was not really the best and the focus is a tad soft in my mind, but not bad as seen by the results.

So lets start with the mistakes. I started WAY TOO EARLY. When I looked through the view finder about 15-10 seconds before second contact I could see the corona! The following pic would have been unthinkable in the days of film. But the electronics survived.

1/2000s about 5 seconds before C2, note corona visible.
To get the corona at this stage in the eclipse move the brighter part to the edge or off the frame. Hand held was not easy to hold in position between the movement of the ship and the general excitement of a total solar eclipse.

A bit earlier I snapped an image. About 10 seconds before 2nd contact. This is not recommended at al and could have resulted in a blown camera. I was amazed the camera handled the brightness but look at all the internal reflections!

1/2000s about 10 seconds before C2, corona and internal reflections.
I kept on snapping images right into totality. The results are a lot better than I expected.

1/1250s about 5 seconds into totality.

1/800s - Adding more exposure time reveals corona but over exposes the prominences.

Corona structure revealed about 1/500 second.
Longest exposure I got hand held - 1/125s
So I am quite pleased with the results of the camera. Hand held, no tripod. Amazing. Highly recommended, even to beginners. Just remember to turn the flash off.

I won't do that again. Next time I bring a tripod because next time it will be on land and not a moving platform. Next time it is the "Great American Eclipse". Oh yeah baby!

Yes, we saw it!

First off, let me apologize by saying Internet access from a cruise ship is expensive and horribly slow.  That is why I did not add any updates since Singapore. Downloading email and responding to just a few reminded me of the 1200 Baud days. For those of you not used to such terms, just think about typing a character on the keyboard and taking a breath or two before it appears on the screen. Kind of hard to do.

Well, as the title says, we saw it! The eclipse was fantastic. A bent streamer about a rolling wave prominence [with helmut] dominated the view near 2nd contact. Nearer to third contact was another, more classic helmut formation in the corona. I used 15x70 binoculars to view the corona and it was amazing as always.

The hand held camera experiment was a success. The image in the viewfinder when the lens was fully extended (1365mm effective) showed corona 5 seconds before 2nd contact with no filter. The camera had difficulty focusing until the last big of photosphere went away. Using manual exposure with fixed aperture (wide open) the exposure range was from 1/2000 to 1/8 of a second.

I will post more pictures soon with some analysis. After flying east from Singapore to Japan to Los Angeles to Ohio things are still in disarray. I am jotting down this blog as a test of the iPad. It will not upload images, fail!

Here is an image I posted to my website eclipse-chasers.