It's been a long time since I updated this blog, mostly because I haven't been able to do much imaging. Starting in the fall of 2013, I took on a work schedule that has me teaching classes in the early mornings, and the resulting "early-to-bed" sleep schedule has put a damper on imaging and observing. But I've gotten out for the occasional session, such as imaging the Swan nebula (M17) from Lassen Peak in 2015 and 2016. And, best of all, in August 2017 my astronomy buddies and I saw the Great American Eclipse!
Insofar as my busy Fall 2017 work schedule has allowed, I've been working on a long writeup about the experience of my first total solar eclipse - which I'd been anticipating for 33 years! :-O That's going to take a while to complete, so here's a companion entry: A roundup of my favorite images, videos, and trip reports from the 2017 eclipse. I might update this entry from time to time, if I find more cool stuff.
Let's separate these links into categories:
Closeups of the Eclipsed Sun:
The leader in this category, far and away, has to be the video by Jun Ho Oh's group showing the limb of the Moon during totality. This video is simply mind-blowing!
Professor Oh's group appears to have used a Rainbow Astro telescope mount to make two circuits of the Moon's limb, from just before second contact (i.e. as the eclipse was becoming total) to just after third contact (the end of totality). The result is a tour de force. Part of what makes this so satisfying for me is that I saw a fair amount of this detail visually, through a telescope. The telescopic view was the biggest win for me.
Prof. Oh's group has some other eclipse videos on Vimeo as well: A less zoomed-in video of the eclipsed Sun, and a video of their eclipse day at Warm Springs, Oregon.
For still images of the totally-eclipsed Sun, there is nothing to equal the images of the 2017 eclipse acquired and processed by Miroslav Druckmuller and his collaborators. These are the ne plus ultra of eclipse images! It's well worth visiting his main page of eclipse images - prepare to have your mind blown!
Canada's Alan Dyer is another reliable eclipse imager, and he's made a high-dynamic-range composite of the corona, too. This image is linked from his eclipse-day writeup. Also make sure to check out his "Totality Over the Tetons" video!
My mind was really blown by Alex Roberts' gallery of closeup images! He captured some marvelous detail, especially in the chromosphere (the red layer right above the Sun's blazingly bright photosphere). His "Fiery Prominences" shot really rocks my world. Brings back such incredible memories of seeing that chromosphere, and those proms, through the eyepiece. Wow.
At the headquarters of DayStar, a company that makes solar filters, experienced eclipse chaser Fred Bruenjes shot video of totality. This is quite interesting, since it's from near the edge of the path of totality. Personally, I'd find it hard to watch a total eclipse from anywhere other than near the centerline, but now I kind of see why some people go near the edge. The Baily's beads are quite fascinating, the way they last a long time and `crawl' along the edge of the Moon. I'm glad I was on the centerline, but I'm also really glad they shot this video! What a unique view :-)
(Maybe if I live to see the 2052 totality, I'll try to watch it from Pensacola or Wakulla Springs! Bet they'll have some good Baily's beads and nice long diamond rings! That would be a good `probable last eclipse'... if I make it that long!)
My friend and fellow Bay Area astro-imager Steve Migol got a really nice shot of the chromosphere.
Another Bay Area imager, Rogelio Bernal Andreo, got his "Great Gig in the Sky" shot at Phillips Lake, Oregon. He has an epic (but very positive!) travel story about having car trouble on the way to the eclipse. But he made it!
People Watching the Eclipse:
I have to start with a short video of totality in Smith's Ferry, ID. My friends and I were several dozen yards behind the group shown here. What an experience!
There's something important to note about most of the videos you'll see like this: You may notice that they don't look dark until the last several seconds before totality. That's because modern video cameras (mostly in cell phones and GoPro-type cameras) do a good job of compensating for the falling light level. This makes things look pretty normal until right before second contact (C2). In fact, the real-life light level looks noticeably different during the last 15 minutes or so before C2, and the speed and intensity of its fall is incredible to witness - it's almost impossible to capture on video. This incredible falling light is part of what makes a total eclipse the `greatest show on Earth' !
Madras, Oregon was one of the most-publicized places to watch the eclipse. There's a nice video of the eclipse in Madras from Falling Rain Films.
A student of mine mentioned seeing the eclipse at the Symbiosis 2017 festival. Here's a video of the Symbiosis folks enjoying totality (with Pink Floyd's "Eclipse" playing in the backround, of course!)
A very nice post-eclipse article is this one from the Salem, Oregon Statesman-Journal about how *little* adverse impact the eclipse-goers had on Oregon public lands. Way to go, chasers! Thousands of people visited the eclipse path and gave eclipse chasers a GOOD name. :-D Awesome!
Destin from Smarter Every Day has a great video of his group shooting a transit of the International Space Station across the Sun during the partial phase of the eclipse!
I can't forget the preliminary video from David Makepeace! He's one of my favorite eclipse-chasing bloggers. I'm looking forward to more writeups and videos from David about Totality 2017 :-)
(Oh, and I can't leave out Glenn Schneider's 2017 writeup or Fred Espenak's eclipse-day gallery! They're both legendary eclipse chasers.)
Here's a Flickr image pool, curated by NASA.
Mountaintop Eclipse Videos:
During my 33 long years of waiting for the eclipse, I often wondered if I'd try to see it from a mountaintop. I thought a lot about the Grand Teton range. I first learned about mountaineering from the Exum Guides in the Grand Tetons. (This was in 1982 and 1983, so basically imagine one of the kids from Stranger Things climbing the Grand, shortly before the events of Season 1.) Sometimes I contemplated trying to climb the Grand for the 2017 eclipse. Over the years, it seemed too risky, weather-wise. In the end, though, fortune favored the bold! Aaron Glasenapp's 360 video from the summit of the Grand is really something. I recommend standing up and watching it on a tablet device. Hold the tablet in front of your face and pivot around to see the view from different directions. Neat!
(This is a little bit like the 360 video of the 2016 Indonesian eclipse from a beach, shot by Daxon of 360 Thrill.)
Aaron Grafing shot the 2017 eclipse from the Middle Teton. Note the nice views of the south side of the Grand!
Now I am really psyched to try and see totality from Spain's Picos de Europa in 2026! Then maybe a peak in the Canadian Cordillera in 2044? Or maybe Lassen Peak or Brokeoff Mountain in 2045?
After passing over the Tetons, the shadow went over the Wind River range. Here's a wonderfully sharp, hi-def video from Gannett Peak, Wyoming's highest mountain. Austin Cousineau's GoPro footage can be viewed in full hi-definition, and I really enjoy watching it on my 2560x1440 computer monitor. This video does a great job of capturing the weird orange light that I remember seeing all over the landscape, just before and after totality.
(Astrophysics interlude: I assume the orange color - if I perceived it correctly - is due to: 1) the longer-wavelength blackbody peak of the limb-darkened crescent Sun, and 2) A greater proportional contribution of the reddish chromosphere to the light of the thin crescent.)
Before the shadow hit Wyoming, it passed over Idaho's highest point, Borah Peak. That would have been another great mountain to climb on eclipse day. Glad some folks did just that! It was smokier around Borah Peak than in Smith's Ferry, but not smoky enough to spoil peoples' views. A. J. Frabbiele has a nice timelapse from Borah.
I assume Mark Huneycutt's video was shot on a mountaintop in the Appalachians somewhere. Loud audio in a few spots, but this is another great crowd reaction.
Images and Videos from the Air and from Space:
Alaska Airlines had at least one flight that went through the path of totality. Their video gives a nice sense of what it was like on board that aircraft. Two things stand out to me: 1) The sped-up view of the departing shadow at 0:52 is amazing! ... Off it goes towards the Oregon coast! 2) One of the pilots is wearing a GoPro on his head, and I wish I'd done that, too. I'd like to have an even better record for post-Monday-morning quarterbacking my eclipse experience.
This NBC News article highlights the eclipse flight, including planetary scientist Tanya Harrison and astronaut Michael Barratt.
Here's a picture of some F-16 fighter planes on the ground during totality.
Liem Bahnemann captured the umbra passing over central Oregon from a high-altitude balloon. What I find most interesting about this is how slowly the scene changes. It's a lot like the mountaintop videos, in which the shadow doesn't seem to move towards the mountain very quickly. That surprised me at first, until I realized the umbra-penumbra transition is so gradual that no obvious `edge of the shadow' is visible. If you could visualize the actual edge of the umbra, along with various % illumination contours in the penumbra, you'd see these things racing over the ground at 1000+ miles per hour.
NASA's satellite DSCOVR imaged the Moon's shadow passing across the Earth, and their Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter saw it from lunar orbit!
And, of course, the astronauts on the ISS saw the umbra from orbit, as shown on this page and this page from NASA.
If I find more good links from the 2017 eclipse, I'll try to update this page. If you decide to try and see a future eclipse - clear skies to you!