Photographing Solar Eclipses
Author: Bill Kramer
Last update: Monday, 27-Feb-2017 17:36:02 EST

Photographing Solar Eclipses

Total Solar Eclipse 2008Whether you are an experienced astrophotographer or just happen to have a camera handy, you can obtain interesting and beautiful photographic memories of a total solar eclipse. The key is to be prepared and to have a basic plan. This reference is intended to help you prepare and plan to photograph an eclipse while enjoying the experience at the same time.

Under the shadowYou will hear some eclipse veterans declare that you should not bother to photograph an eclipse. For some that advice works. Sit back and enjoy the visual show - there is a lot to see and experience. Wasting time with a camera will detract from the splendor. However, photographing a solar eclipse is both thrilling and exhilarating. Photographing the eclipse successfully provides a tangible memory that will never fail to bring a chill or a tingle. Even a simple camera will produce a picture that captures the moment.

Obtaining a "perfect" picture of a total solar eclipse is not easy. Pictures that show the corona detail with prominences are the result of multiple images stacked together along with other computer/dark room work. Prominences are several orders of magnitude brighter than the corona. They will be over exposed in any image showing coronal streamers. And the corona will all but vanish in pictures showing prominences in detail. To produce a good composite picture that you can call your own is not too difficult, if you have the right equipment and are able to get a good sequence of images at varying exposures.

Total Solar eclipses are not your everyday type of thing to photograph. Preparation is essential to success and learning how others have done it before is the first step. The next and most important step is practice.

A critical consideration when preparing to photograph a total solar eclipse is that travel will be involved (unless you are very lucky and an eclipse will take place over your observatory where the weather is perfect). Getting your equipment to and from an eclipse can be a challenge. My own experience traveling to eclipses plays a key role in my recommendations and comments.

Telescope and camera

These web pages are based on the input of expert eclipse photographers and my own experience photographing over a dozen unique total solar eclipses using a variety of equipment on different platforms. Mobility, transportability, and multiple use are key elements in my decisions of what to take and what to leave behind.

There are people reading this information with a lot more knowledge than I have, you know who you are. If you have any input you'd like to share, it is VERY welcomed. Articles, pictures, comments, corrections and embellishments will be added as quickly as possible.

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