On October 23, 2014, a partial eclipse of the Sun was widely visible from North America (see: Partial Solar Eclipse of 2014 Oct 23). I observed the eclipse from Sacramento Peak, New Mexico while attending the 2014 Solar Eclipse Conference (see: 2014 Solar Eclipse Conference).
I wasn’t particularly excited about this event because I’ve seen many total solar eclipses (see: MrEclipse.com), but about one week before the eclipse, an enormous sunspot complex rotated into view. Designated AR2192, this active region was about the size of Jupiter making it the largest sunspot in 24 years (see: APOD: Giant Sunspot).
Suddenly, my interest was piqued because the sunspot would be well placed during the eclipse. I packed up my Vixen 90mm f/9 fluorite refractor and a Losmandy GM-8 equatorial for the trip to New Mexico. I usually test all my equipment days or weeks before an eclipse, but this was a busy time with several house guests and two talks to prepare before the eclipse conference, so no system testing was done.
I soon discovered two equipment problems as the eclipse began. Although my rechargeable battery was freshly charged, it died early into the eclipse. I then switched to my car battery. A second problem presented itself when the telescope failed to track the Sun. The fast/slow buttons of the drive worked to position the Sun, but it would slowly drift out of the field. My only recourse was to use the fast/slow buttons to recenter the Sun before each exposure.
Because I planned to shoot a time-lapse video of the eclipse I needed to make exposures quite frequently – in this case, every 30 seconds. Consequently, I had to remain near the telescope for the full 2.25 hours of the eclipse to center the Sun before every exposure. This was turning into much more work than I had anticipated, but the clear weather, good seeing and that wonderful sunspot kept me at my post until the eclipse ended.
A month passed before I found the time to begin processing the 270 separate eclipse images in Adobe Photoshop. The first step was to create a circular reference template to manually center each photo. This took about 9 hours. I then created a Photoshop action to crop and resize the frames and to make adjustments to the histogram. Finally, the frames were assembled into a 10-frame-per-second time lapse video using Time Lapse Assembler on an 11″ Macbook Air and uploaded to Vimeo.
The resulting video shows the Moon gracefully swinging across the northern half of the Sun while sunspot AR2192 remains in full view.
And now, it’s time to begin preparing for the total solar eclipse of March 20, 2015 in the Faroe Islands (see: Total Solar Eclipse of 2015 Mar 20). Hopefully, I’ll do a better job of testing my gear before that eclipse!
- More Information
- Eclipses During 2014 (EclipseWise.com)
- Eclipses During 2015 (EclipseWise.com)
- Solar and Lunar Eclipses (EclipseWise.com) – a new web site containing predictions for thousands of solar and lunar eclipses
- Thousand Year Canon of Solar Eclipses: 1501 to 2500 – maps and data for each of the 2,389 solar eclipses occurring over a 1,000-year period.
- Thousand Year Canon of Lunar Eclipses: 1501 to 2500 – diagrams, maps and data for each of the 2,424 lunar eclipses occurring over a 1,000-year period.
- Thousand Year Canon of Solar Eclipses: 1501 to 2500 – Color Edition – maps and data for each of the 2,389 solar eclipses occurring over a 1,000-year period.
- Thousand Year Canon of Lunar Eclipses: 1501 to 2500 – Color Edition – diagrams, maps and data for each of the 2,424 lunar eclipses occurring over a 1,000-year period.
- How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse – MrEclipse.com
- How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse – Nikon.com