Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Solar Eclipse 14th November 2012

Today was the long anticipated Total Solar Eclipse (as viewed from north Queensland)! Did you get a view or maybe even a photograph?

While I didn't travel to Queensland for the eclipse I did pop around the corner at 4:30am to nab some photo's of the partial solar eclipse visible from here in Perth, Western Australia. It was a nice morning with thin cloud, but clear enough to see the event.

Even though I forgot to take a critical camera adaptor (happens to all of us at one time or another!) I managed to scramble together a vaguely workable situation with the most simplest of astrophotography techniques - pointing the camera down the eyepiece! It has been many years since I did that!

This was the view of the lake before sunrise, with a little mist floating nicely above the lake:

And then, with my small portable telescope on the AstroTrac ready for some photography (perhaps you can see the eyepiece in the telescope rather than the camera!):

That was all before I scrambled to try and photograph with my DSLR through the eyepiece. I only take one eyepiece with me on a trip like this because I don't expect to use it at all. I was lucky it was a nice wide field eyepiece which made photographing through it a little easier. I ended up using the rather odd combination of my 17-40mm lens with a 2x converter. Not what I would usually recommend, but it was the combination of available equipment that worked best for seeing in to the eyepiece.

I am dissapointed that I missed photographing the sun rising due to the missing camera adaptor. It was a wonderful sight through the eypeiece, with nicely silhouetted gumtrees on the far lake shore with the eclipsed sun and nice strands of cloud splashed across. Very similar to my Transit of Venus photo but only it would have been better. Better luck next time!

Anyway, on to the main event, this was my first attempt:

And then I improved the situation by using a second tripod to hold the camera in the correct position against the eyepiece (which in its self was not easy, and required constant tweaking as the AstroTrac moved the telescope to follow the sun):

In the above photograph you can see several sunspots visible on the solar disk and thin wisps of cloud in front of the sun. You can also see how the clarity is better (although I admit still very poor - oh if only I hadn't forgotten the camera adaptor!).

Last of the eclipse photo's is this one from near the end. You can see how much the disk of the moon has moved off the solar surface in comparison to the above images, and how the sun was lifting out of the foreground cloud:

The only other thing I will show you is how not to take a photograph through a telescope! really, there are much better ways - adaptors that connect your camera to the telescope instead of having an eyepiece in place. But, when all else fails, this can sort of work, even if it does involve a flimsy backup tripod extended to its maximum:

I hope you enjoyed the eclipse if you were out there viewing or photographing it! I would love to hear your stories in the comments below.