Solar Eclipse – Post Processing

With the eclipse behind us, and all the gear put away it’s time to transfer and process the images to create something memorable.  I decided to make a mosaic with some of the photos of the eclipse, as well as the visible sun spots. Click on the image below for a high-resolution version.

August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse

August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse

The weather cooperated and I had the right gear to get some decent photos. Before the start of the eclipse, the sun presented two observable active sun spot regions: 2671 and 2672. This helped in achieving a proper focus and gave something to observe prior to the start of the eclipse.

Sunspot Region 2671 (right) and 2672 (left)

Sunspot Region 2671 (right) and 2672 (left)

As I had installed and aligned my Vixen equatorial mount the night before, once I had proper focus with the camera, it was child’s play to start an automatic sequence of images every 60 seconds. Hence for the entire solar eclipse, it was hands-off and automated. I could simply glance once in a while at the screen or grab one of the hand-held solar viewers to look up.

58% Cover from the Montreal, Canada Location.

58% Cover from the Montreal, Canada Location.

While the effect was nowhere near that of those in the path of totality, the light level and heat did drop at the peak of the eclipse. The brightness was lower, not like when there are high altitude clouds as the shadows were still sharp and well-defined. And the sun’s rays did feel cooler, a welcomed relief from standing under the sun for the last hour.

In the end, it was a fun experience, especially with the kids. And with over 150 images taken I decided to compile them into two formats. A time-lapse video and a mosaic as seen above.

The video was actually the quickest thing done. With Microsoft Movie Maker, it takes the Canon CR2 RAW files directly and stitches them together into a video. It actually took me longer to find a suitable soundtrack to the clip.

With that experience under my belt, I’m looking forward to April 8th 2024 total solar eclipse that will pass close to home.

Telescope: Skywatcher 80ED with Thousand Oaks R-G solar film
Camera: Canon Rebel XTi (450D)
Setting: 1/1000s at ISO 100

Partial eclipse and sunspots

As the moon moves out of the path of the sun, it exposes the sunspots AR2671 adding some interest to the show as it comes to an end.

With over 150 photos taken during the eclipse, time to create a time lapse video.

Eclipse viewing with a pasta strainer.

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Multiple projections of the eclipse.


Something is taking a bite out of the sun!

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What could it be?

Getting Prepared for the Eclipse

With the time approaching, I installed the telescope such that it can get up to temperature under the sun. I used an old cardboard box as a sun shield around the laptop for better viewing. I still have a good hour before it starts, so might as well have lunch and then set-up the camera.

SW80ED on Vixen GP mount.

SW80ED on Vixen GP mount.

Thin high altitude clouds and high humidity will muddy the view a bit, but other than that looking good.

For the Montreal area the maximum coverage will be 58%.

Polar Align the Night Before the Eclipse

The telescope mount is aligned and ready for tomorrow. While you may think that you’ll have plenty of time to setup your telescope gear in the morning before the solar eclipse starts. If you are using an equatorial mount, you need to polar align the night before.

Polar alignment in the daytime is possible, however it’s much easier to set-up the night before with the help of Polaris. No rain in the forecast tonight and the sky was clear enough to align the mount.

Don’t forget to charge your camera and check that you have enough storage space for the images. And lucky for us, there are sun spots which will help get the focus right. Not always obvious when all you see is a bright disk over a dark background.

Bummed About Missing Totality? Plan for April 8th 2024

The August 2017 solar eclipse will be special, I’m sure the media coverage has repeated it often enough.  While there is a solar eclipse about every year, it often happens over open ocean or remote places.  The fact that the August 2017 event will sweep across all of the continental United States, where millions will be able to simply look up by heading outdoors, many with easy access to digital cameras and social media to share is what makes it special.

However, if you’re bummed that you won’t be able to witness the total solar eclipse because you’re not in the right spot, fear not!  It will happen again… in 7 years.

Mark April 8th 2024 in your digital calendar.  On the map below, the red line will be the best view, the center of the Moon’s shadow. However any spot between the blue lines will get a total solar eclipse. A different group of States will be the lucky ones this time around. And while the folks in Toronto and Ottawa just falls outside, a short drive will easily get you to a better viewing location.

April 8th, 2024 Eclipse Path

April 8th, 2024 Eclipse Path

So don’t throw away those solar safety glasses you will need them again in 2024. Besides, you can use them every day to track sun spots!