Living in central Oregon has its perks. One of which was I didn’t need to travel far to view the Aug. 21, 2017 Great American Eclipse.
Several days before the eclipse, wildfires sprouted up in this area and there was a fear that smoke would interfere with the grand show. However, those fears melted away as the morning brightened to a beautiful day.
Although I lived within the path of totality, I wanted a little more than the 45 seconds of totality predicted for where I lived. A couple of weeks earlier, a friend of mine and I scouted for areas to view and photograph the eclipse from. We found a nice spot deeper in the Twilight Zone which would provide one minute and 36 seconds of totality and marked the spot.
On the morning of the eclipse, we gathered our gear and headed to the spot only to find we weren’t the only people who thought it was a good spot. Knowing there were places just as good along the road we traveled on, we found another place about a half mile away, set up the equipment and waited.
My plan was to shoot a sequence of images of the eclipse with one camera, and then shoot totality with a second camera. One worked as planned...one didn’t. For some reason, my sequence shots were ruined by the combination of my solar filter and the camera I used. Instead of sharp, clear images of the progressive “Pac-man” sun, I got a series of images which had a nice haze around the sun. I had checked everything a couple of weeks earlier to make sure everything would work as planned, and it did.
However, the night before the eclipse, I borrowed a second camera to use for the sequence shots and failed to check how that camera would respond to the settings I developed with my personal camera days before. Even though the camera was made by the same manufacturer as my camera, it didn’t respond as well as my camera. Lesson learned.
What did work was the sequence shots was the timing. I would say it was perfect, but since I can’t prove how “perfect” the timing was, let’s just say it was very close to what I wanted. My first sequence shot was to be made six minutes before first contact, then six minutes later, another image at first contact and a new image every six minutes until the final shot was made, six minutes after last contact.
During totality, I was going to remove the solar filter, shoot a number of images to use in the sequence, then replace the filter and let the timer do its thing once again. But, I was so concerned with getting images from my camera, which had my 70-300 mm lens on it, that I forgot to remove the filter from the sequence camera and have a nice series of blank images halfway through the sequence. Another lesson learned.
As totality approached, I wanted to get the first Diamond Ring, then totality and finally the second Diamond Ring. With timers set to alert us to various stages of the eclipse, I began shooting and my friend began being awe-inspired. This was my second eclipse, so I knew what to expect. However, at totality, I was amazed at the number of planets I was able to see...Venus, Mercury, Jupiter and possibly Mars, along with several stars were visible. It is something I did not remember from my first total eclipse. All I remember of that eclipse is the darkness and missing sun. I was rather young at the time.
I am attaching several of my images from the eclipse. The first image is the first Diamond Ring effect as totality approached. It is a stack of three images taken one after another. Two images of totality follow. The first is a stack of five totality shots and the second is as the camera saw totality. The final image is the second Diamond Ring effect as totality ended.
I used AutoStakkert to stack the images and both were accomplished with a 1.5 drizzle effect. I am still trying to wrap my head around “drizzle” as it applies to astrophotography stacking, so don’t look for an explanation here.
In the grand scheme of things, the “Great American Eclipse” as seen from a dry canyon at the base of Grey Butte in central Oregon was a beautiful event. But not beautiful enough to make me an eclipse chaser. I’ll wait for them to come to me and one will in about six years.
By the way, the star seen in the lower left of the images I believe is Regulus.
On Oct. 14, 2023, an Annular Eclipse will slide through central Oregon. The center line will be about 50 miles south of me and if I am able, I will head in that direction to photograph the phenomena. It will be my second annular eclipse.
My first annular eclipse happened on May 10, 1994 and I timed a trip east to visit family in Illinois to witness the eclipse. It was rather interesting to see a slightly darken sky and that majestic ring around the moon. However, I didn’t have a camera at that time...but I will in 2023.
Skies here are still murky due to heavy smoke, and yesterday I glanced towards the sun about two hours before sunset and it shined in a beautiful ruby red color. I tried to capture what it looked like, but the color just didn’t come through.
Hopefully the smoke will clear someday and I can break out my telescopes once again (see previous post) and enjoy what I see in the night sky.
Until then, here is wishing everyone clear skies and great viewing!