Astronomy Cafe – Apr 15, 2024

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Meeting transcript video

  • Oak Bay Lighting in Uplands – Dave Robinson
    • Resident pressure stopped replacement of existing historic lighting
    • Proposed lighting upgrade is a poor idea
    • There are good options available for “historic” light fixtures
    • RASC Victoria should approach the mayor
    • Email to obcouncil@oakbay.ca
  • Solar Eclipse Reports
    • Aboard the Discovery Princess – 125nmi SW from Mazatlan, Mexico
      • Joe Carr
        • John McDonald and Bill Weir and his wife from Victoria were also onboard the ship
        • Pastry chefs served eclipse cookies
        • Princess Cruises and the ship’s officers were very well prepared for this special cruise, giving out eclipse glasses to both passengers and crew, communicating the ship’s position and heading would be, and having two experts aboard to give presentations on the subject and answer questions.
        • Observed a beautiful Green Flash at sunset the night before the eclipse
        • Ships within a few miles: Zaandam, Koningsdam, Sh Diana, and Ruby Princess
        • John and Joe observed from Joe’s balcony, since it was on the side of the ship facing the Sun
        • Eclipse photos and videos
          • Partial phase
          • Projected images of the eclipsed Sun through deck chair webbing
          • Totality, including prominences, plasma streamers, Diamond Ring at C3 and the planets Jupiter and Venus near the Sun
          • Wide field time lapse video of the eclipse
        • A 10ºC temperature drop was measured with a portable weather station during the eclipse
      • John McDonald
        • Eclipse shadows spelling words
        • Lots of great food onboard the ship
        • Observed and photographed partial phases and Totality
        • It was very dark overhead but quite light around us
        • Lots of excitement onboard among the passengers after the eclipse
      • Bill Weir
        • Observed from the top deck with a Coronado PST for Ha and a small Apo refractor with white light filter
        • Night sky viewing with Dr. Matt or Prof. Shelly on the top deck
        • Showed lots of passengers solar images
        • Saw Jupiter, Venus and a glimpse of 12P/Pons-Brooks comet
        • Corona was a spectacular flower-like apparition
        • Enrichment Speakers
          • Dr. Matt – dinosaurs, meteorites and astronomy
          • Prof. Shelly Bonus, UCLA, Mt. Wilson – friend of John Dobson
        • The ship was remarkably stable
    • Sherbrooke, Quebec – Alex Schmid
      • Drove to Quebec and back from BC!
      • Problems with telescope tracking and camera
      • Perfectly clear on eclipse day
      • Observed prominences, Venus and Jupiter
      • Lots of traffic on the roads after eclipse
    • Miramachi, New Brunswick – Clayton Uyeda
      • Had concerns about all the clouds, but it cleared
      • Observed from a remote site with his wife
      • Twilight but not dark
      • Indigenous smudging, drumming nearby
      • Students are back in Victoria High School. John Geehan trying to start up the trans-Neptunian Objects initiative with the high school’s new observing deck.
    • Central Texas – Peter Jedicke
      • Drove from Ontario
      • Weather was iffy, but it cleared for lots of glimpses of the eclipse
      • Enjoyed reports from dozens of people spread out all along the path of totality
    • Kingston, Ontario – Marjie Welchframe
      • Cloudy during the eclipse, but usable observing
    • Photos of the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse – by RASC Victoria Centre members
  • Activities along eclipse path – Randy Enkin
    • AirB&B occupancy map
    • Traffic maps and delays
    • Air traffic
    • inaturalist.org observations
    • Eye pain queries
  • Victoria Centre Observatory – David Lee, Randy Enkin and Reg Dunkley
    • 7 observers at recent observing session on April 13th
    • A glimpse of 12P/Pons-Brooks comet just after sunset
    • Mike Nash and Randy Enkin observed and photographed the Moon
    • Used a half hour on the Takahashi telescope to sketch Theophilius crater
    • Some first-time VCO observers had an interesting time
  • Chris Gainor
    • Met with Jenna Hinds at RASC National
      • Insurance coverage for VCO will be put in place
      • GA planned for May 4-5
      • Shot a video during the eclipse from Colchester Harbour, Ontario
  • Upcoming Activities
    • Council meeting on April 23, 2024
    • Astronomy Day planning meeting on April 25, 2024

Marjie Welchframe will host next week’s Astro Cafe on April 22, 2024.

Total Solar Eclipse – April 8, 2024

Posted by as Observing Highlights

2017 Total Solar Eclipse - plasma streamers at totality - photo by John McDonald
2017 Total Solar Eclipse – plasma streamers at totality – photo by John McDonald

A Total Solar Eclipse is a rare astronomical event (2017 was the last one), and it is even rarer for one to occur in locations that are easy to travel to. Although only a partial eclipse is observable from western Canada, the eclipse tracks diagonally across North America (southwest to northeast) on April 8, 2024. In fact, everyone in North America is within striking distance of being able to observe this amazing event, where the Moon slides in front of the Sun for a few brief minutes, suddenly and totally obscuring the Sun.

If you haven’t observed a Total Solar Eclipse, this is your chance!

Location

The eclipse tracks diagonally across North America, starting in Mazatlan, Mexico, across Texas and other states in the middle of the USA, tracking across southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. Dedicated eclipse chasers are seeking the best prospects of clear skies by travelling to Mexico, but there are lots of Canadians planning to observe from locations near home, despite the chance of clear skies being poor at that time of year.

Map of eclipse track across North America
Eclipse track across North America – Jay Anderson, Eclipsophile

Time and Date’s 2024 Total Solar Eclipse site gives all the facts and figures required to find and enjoy the eclipse, including an interactive zoomable map showing the eclipse track and links to livestreams if you want to experience this eclipse from the comforts of home.

What if you can’t travel to the track of totality?

Partial Solar Eclipse from SW British Columbia
Partial Solar Eclipse from SW British Columbia – Time and Date’s interactive eclipse map

You can still see a partial solar eclipse from anywhere in North America. Use Time and Date’s interactive eclipse map to get the calculated timing for the eclipse in the area you plan to observe from. Click and zoom to your area, then click on your observing spot to see a popup telling you how long the eclipse will last and what you will see.

From our location in southwest BC in Canada, a small notch out of the solar disk will appear on eclipse day – obscuring about 17% of the Sun. Not exciting compared with the dramatic Total Solar Eclipse observed from the centreline, but still an interesting apparition to observe, assuming the 76% chance of cloud cover doesn’t prevail!

Weather

Weather always plays a big part in any solar eclipse, so being mobile is key to improving the odds of actually seeing the event should clouds threaten to obscure the Sun at the critical moment. Our very own Jay Anderson (former RASC Journal editor) is a weather expert, and specializes in forecasting weather for solar eclipses. His Eclipseophile website offers sage advice backed up with maps and charts depicting weather prospects for each eclipse happening in the world for the next several years. Read Jay’s analysis of the area you propose to observe from, so you understand how the weather might behave on eclipse day. Topography, elevation changes and local factors play into how the weather evolves throughout the day for a particular locale. Become a local weather expert, and you increase your chances for success!

Map showing the probability of clouds along the eclipse track
Probability of clouds along the eclipse track – Jay Anderson, Eclipsophile

Observing

Observing a Total Solar Eclipse is pretty easy, however that said, if you haven’t done it before, it’s nice to have experienced eclipse observers around to help you get the most out of your time under the Moon’s shadow. Obviously the time of total eclipse is the main event, however other things happen beforehand, afterwards, and during an eclipse that are worthwhile.

Uranus, Jupiter, Comet Pons-Brooks (12P), Mercury, eclipsed Sun, Venus, Neptune, Saturn - diagram from Starry Night Pro Plus 8
Uranus, Jupiter, Comet Pons-Brooks (12P), Mercury, eclipsed Sun, Venus, Neptune, Saturn – diagram from Starry Night Pro Plus 8

Although the eclipsed Sun is the main target, look around in the darkened sky for planets and other bright celestial objects. There is a good chance eclipse observers will be able to see: Uranus, Jupiter, Comet Pons-Brooks (12P), Mercury, Venus, Neptune and Saturn! Of course, the sky only darkens for the observer if they are in the path of totality, so anyone observing a partial eclipse won’t see any solar system bodies (except the Sun itself).

Be sure to try out any gear you propose to take with you before you leave. Make sure you have proper solar eclipse filters for any binoculars (or your eyes), camera lenses and telescopes you are bringing along. Remember, you only have a few minutes to see totality!

Finally, relax and enjoy the day. Arrive early. Try to manage your stress level. Just sit back in a reclining chair, have your solar glasses handy, and enjoy!

Safely observing a solar eclipse – read about how to safely observe a solar eclipse

DIY Box Pinhole Projector – to safely observe the eclipse with only a box and some aluminum foil!

Victoria RASC eclipse chasers on the field observing the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse from Oregon
Victoria RASC eclipse chasers on the field observing the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse from Oregon

Photography

If this is your first time experiencing a Total Solar Eclipse, don’t risk missing the eclipse by fiddling with cameras! Observing through (filtered) binoculars is a low risk way to capture the moments of totality in your memory.

For dedicated photographers, using their gear to capture a Total Solar Eclipse can be a right of passage, and has the potential to either be a highlight of your lifetime photography experience (if you succeed) or end up being a point of shame you never want to talk about again (if you fail). Take test photos of the Sun weeks beforehand, so you know your photo gear will work as expected. Always have a backup plan for when (not if) gear breaks, or you simply can’t get it to work properly. Here are some scenarios for consideration for those who are brave enough to want to multitask during totality – a once-in-a-lifetime event (least difficult listed first):

  1. Use a smart phone on automatic mode to take photos or videos of the scene around you
  2. Use a camera and wide angle lens mounted on a tripod to record the landscape, people and the eclipsed Sun (and perhaps stars and planets) in the sky. Take a random series of shots or set the camera to shoot automatically at regular intervals to create a time lapse series.
  3. Use a camera and moderate telephoto lens on a tripod to shoot video of the eclipse in the sky. Keep the telephoto lens short (80mm to perhaps 135mm) to let the eclipsed Sun pass through the frame.
  4. Use a camera and long telephoto lens on a tripod to shoot photographs of the eclipsed Sun. Take photos of the eclipse at the important moments: plasma streamers, Bailey’s Beads, Diamond Ring, totality, and partial eclipse phases.
  5. Use a telescope on a tracking mount with a camera on the back to capture closeup details of the eclipse events such as Bailey’s Beads and the Diamond Ring.

Expansion of the list above, with important details about setup, rehearsing, and special gear you may wish to consider purchasing can be found in this article: How to photograph a solar eclipse, with Alan Dyer – EarthSky.

Travel

RASC Eclipse chasers setup in the Libyan Sahara - March 29, 2006
RASC Eclipse chasers observing from the Libyan Sahara – March 29, 2006

Dedicated eclipse chasers and tour operators have made reservations at least two years ago at all the prime locations for this eclipse along the centreline where the weather is best. That’s not to say last-minute travellers are shut out from experiencing this eclipse – by planning carefully and compromising a bit, it can still work. Flights to hotspots like Mazatlan a couple of days before to a couple of days after April 8th will be fully booked, as will hotels and guest houses. Flying to nearby airports and staying in accommodation outside the centreline can make sense. Driving into the track of totality early on eclipse day can work for many who have not planned ahead.

Many of the USA states the eclipse track runs through will not have crowds of people once you are on country roads. With careful planning using the interactive eclipse and weather maps, it is certainly possible to observe the eclipse from the side of the road, parking lots, campsites, or farmer’s fields. Interstate highways which are in the track of totality will experience congestion, depending on how close to civilization the location is. When driving, expect long delays even for 24 hours or so after an eclipse as all those eclipse chasers try to get home! To avoid that anxiety, plan to stay a day or two longer near your observing site before commencing your road trip home.

Help!

If this will be your first time observing a total solar eclipse, no doubt you have many questions and concerns, and don’t know where to start. The resources presented here may be overwhelming. Please ask any questions you might have about eclipses at Astronomy Cafe, held each Monday evening by RASC Victoria Centre. Your fellow RASC members have observed solar eclipses before…they can help!

If you are reading this from other locations, find your local RASC Centre in eastern Canada which have posted eclipse events and information – Eclipse 2024 RASC.

Resources

Astronomy Cafe – Apr 4, 2022

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Meeting transcript video

  • Super PupZ kids’ series – David Lee
    • Netflix series shot on southern Vancouver Island, including the Plaskett observatory
    • Dave Balum an advisor for the series
  • Astronomy Day – May 7th – David Lee
    • Our first in-person event for the last couple of years is being planned
    • Day event at the Royal BC Museum – public welcome, inside and outside
      • Welcome desk
      • Telescopes Show and Tell
      • Astrophotography
      • Children’s Astro Crafts
      • Responsible Lighting
      • Planetarium
      • Solar Observing from the plaza outside
      • Ask an Astronomer
      • Speakers in the Newcombe
      • Friends of the DAO
      • NRC/DAO
      • University of Victoria
      • Science Venture
    • Cross-Canada RASC National virtual event – Victoria to contribute
    • Evening event on Observatory Hill (pending NRC approval for public event)
    • Volunteers are welcome – contact David Lee (email) or Lauri Roche (email)
  • SIGs – David Lee
  • Edmonton Astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • Solar Sunspots in both Ha & white light – Arnold Rivera
    • Future presentation to Astro Cafe on solar activity and features – Chris Purse
  • Aurora – Randy Enkin
    • Alex Taalman aurora photos from March 30th – pending display
    • Sunspotter viewer
    • Sunspot frequency and historical observations
    • Space Weather Essentials – Sun and Earth
    • How Aurora happens
    • Aurora: Mysteries of the Northern Lights – Robert L. Lysak (Youtube)
    • Aurora stories from members
  • Astronomy Cafe – Joe Carr
    • Astro Cafe mugs for sale for $15 – contact Joe (email)
    • History of Astronomy Cafe – David Lee
    • New room for Astro Cafe will be used for in-person meetings within a few weeks
    • Need volunteers for both hosting the meeting and the Zoom session – contact Randy Enkin (email) or Chris Purse (email)
  • Astrophotos – Martin Gisborne
    • Aurora: In Search of the Northern Lights – Dr. Melanie Windridge – Amazon
    • Saving the Starry Night – Patrizia A. Caraveo – Springer
    • Astrophotos – Martin’s gallery
      • Hercules Cluster M13
      • NGC 4565 – edge-on galaxy, and other galaxies
      • M106 galaxy
      • ISS streak
      • Widefield view of many galaxies in Markarian Chain region
      • IC405 nebula
      • M101 Whirlpool Galaxy
      • M42 Orion Nebula – reprocessed 2019 image and recent 2022 versions
      • M81 & M82
      • M81 galaxy
    • Selling his Celestron CGEM mount soon

Astronomy Cafe – Dec 6, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Transcript video of the meeting

  • Review next week’s presentation by Dr. Robert Thirsk – Chris Purse
    • Connection to meeting will be through a waiting room
    • Jeff Pivnick will host
    • Link for this meeting will be unique, and emailed to all RASC Victoria members
    • Maximum of 100 attendees
  • Total Solar Eclipse from Antarctica – Joe Carr
  • Astro Compass – Randy Enkin & Peter Kabel
    • Frank Younger’s estate donated the Compass Astro to Victoria Centre
    • Used in aircraft when they are flying a long way north, where the magnetic field isn’t reliable
    • “It’s a sundial in reverse”
    • Need to know your position and time, sighting on a celestial object with known Right Ascension & Declination. North will be indicated accurate to within about 1º.
  • Edmonton Astrophotos – Dave Robinson
    • Photo of Comet C/2001 A1 Leonard near M3 cluster – Arnold Rivera
    • Sketch of Comet C/2001 A1 Leonard with observing narrative – Berta Beltran
    • Rosette Nebula photo – Arnold Rivera
  • Chris Gainor
    • James Web Space Telescope update
      • Completed fuelling operations for the JWST itself
      • To be mounted onto the Ariane 5 rocket next
      • Dec 22nd launch date
      • Launch website
    • Not Yet Imagined – Chris’ new book about Hubble Space Telescope’s history. Book should be available for sale in awhile through RASC’s e-store and FDAO’s e-store locally. Electronic versions from NASA
  • Comet C/2001 A1 Leonard – observing report by David Lee
    • Observed and photographed through some clear spots over the last few days
    • Poor conditions for photography, but managed to get a good wide field image of the comet using a dSLR and tracking mount
    • Virtual Telescope broadcast – tomorrow 8PM PST
  • Lauri Roche
    • 2022 RASC Calendars
      • Send any more requests for calendars to Lauri
      • Should be $16 each
    • FDAO e-store – astronomy and space themed fun items available for sale. Free local delivery or shipped by mail (extra cost).

Astronomy Cafe – June 21, 2021

Posted by as Astro Cafe

Video transcript of meeting

  • Thierry Legault’s Astrophoto Guide
  • RASC GA and AGM – Registration site
  • Geocaching and Public Outreach for Astronomy – Malcolm Scrimger
  • Summer Solstice – Randy Enkin
    • The Solstice happens at different times 
      • Actual time depends on time zone person is in
      • Gregorian calendar causes timing anomalies (Leap Years)
      • Earth’s eccentric orbit, astrophysical and geophysical components affects seasonal timing too
      • Sun setting angles in the north – https://metcam.navcanada.ca
  • Astrophotography
    • Astrophotography SIG – John McDonald
      • This Thu 7:30PM
      • M101 Monthly Challenge
      • Beginners Introduction to planetary imaging and processing using PixInsight
    • Victoria Centre astrophoto – Brock Johnston
      • Ring Nebula M57 & galaxy (IC 1296) in the field using LRGB – Dave Payne
      • Ring Nebula M57 – more detail from narrowband Hydrogen (Ha), Oxygen, Sulphur wavelengths – Dave Payne
      • Visually observing the galaxy (IC 1296) – Dorothy Paul
      • Ring Nebula M57 – Brock Johnston
      • Eagle Nebula – narrowband using Hubble palette – Brock Johnston
      • Hercules Cluster M13 – Brock Johnston
      • Sunspot and granularity on Sun’s surface in Ha – John McDonald
      • Eagle Nebula M16 from Slooh Chile- Joe Carr
      • Recent astrophotos by Victoria Centre members
    • Edmonton Centre astrophotos – Dave Robinson
      • Dimming of Betelgeuse (ESO link) – Larry Wood 
      • Lightning storm June 15th – Stephen Olesen
  • FDAO Star Party this Saturday (youtube & zoom) – new IMT building at the DAO – Lauri Roche
  • Diane Bell’s astronomy equipment – Lauri Roche
  • Variable Star visual observing – David Lee

2019 Transit of Mercury

Posted by as Observing Highlights

2016 Transit of Mercury - prize-winning photo by John McDonald. Mercury is the tiny dot just above the trees, not the big sunspot in the middle of the Sun!
2016 Transit of Mercury – prize-winning photo by John McDonald. Mercury is the tiny dot just above the trees, not the big sunspot in the middle of the Sun!

This transit of Mercury will be well underway when the Sun rises at 7:00AM on November 11th. Observers in our location on the west coast of Canada will need to get up early and setup in the dark or pre-dawn, so familiarize yourself with your chosen observing location a few days before this event!

2019 Mercury Transit – gallery of photos and sketches from RASC Victoria Centre members.

Transit timing for Victoria, BC, Canada – Nov 11, 2019 – Pacific Standard Time (PST) – 2 hours & 45 minutes long

  • First contact (ingress, exterior): sun below horizon
  • Second contact (ingress, interior): sun below horizon
  • Sunrise – 7:00AM in the SE
  • Greatest transit: 7:20:26 AM PST
  • Third contact (egress, interior): 10:03:02 AM PST – Sun Altitude 19°
  • Fourth contact (egress, exterior): 10:04:43 AM PST
2019 Mercury Transit world map - Fred Espenak
2019 Mercury Transit world map – Fred Espenak

Observing

2019 Mercury Transit diagram - Fred Espenak
2019 Mercury Transit diagram – Fred Espenak

You should try out any gear you propose to use before Nov 11th. Make sure you have proper solar eclipse filters for any binoculars, camera lenses and telescopes you will be using. Take test photos of the Sun well before this event, so you know your photo gear will work as expected. 

Unlike a total solar eclipse, there is no safe time to take off your solar filters when observing a planetary transit across the Sun. Solar filters must be used the whole time you are looking at the Sun for this event!

Choose a location that has a clear view to the east and southeast, since the transit will be in progress as the Sun rises. Being located on a hill will be an advantage for observing the Sun (and transit) sooner.

Mercury is too small to see without using some magnification, so at a minimum, use solar filters on binoculars or a small telescope to observe with. Mercury will be impossible or extremely difficult to see with unaided eyes or pinhole projectors.

Timing and azimuth of sunrise from Victoria on Nov 11, 2019
Timing and azimuth of sunrise from Victoria on Nov 11, 2019

Finally, relax and enjoy this event. Sit back in a reclining chair, have your solar glasses and filtered binoculars or telescope handy, and enjoy!

Resources

Total Solar Eclipse – August 21, 2017

Posted by as Observing Highlights

2012 Total Solar Eclipse aboard the Paul Gauguin cruise ship, on the totality track south of New Caledonia Nov 14, 2012 200km south of New Caledonia in the Coral Sea
2012 Total Solar Eclipse

A Total Solar Eclipse is a rare astronomical event, and it is even rarer for one to occur close to where you live. Those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest of North America will be favoured with such an event happening near us on August 21, 2017. In fact, everyone in North America is within striking distance of being able to observe this amazing event, where the Moon slides in front of the Sun for a few brief minutes, suddenly and totally obscuring the Sun.

If you haven’t observed a Total Solar Eclipse, this is your chance!

Location

The eclipse tracks across Oregon and Idaho, making it easy to get to the eclipse totality track from Victoria, British Columbia with one day’s drive. The major cities of Portland and Eugene in Oregon are obvious targets for those of us who are eclipse chasers. I-5, an Interstate highway, crosses the eclipse centreline at the city of Salem, Oregon as the eclipse tracks eastward across the U.S.A. So you might decide to stay in Portland or Eugene, but you will have to drive to the centreline, otherwise you will miss the eclipse!

NASA’s Eclipse website gives all the facts and figures required to find and enjoy the eclipse, including an interactive zoomable map showing the eclipse track.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017 track across Oregon and Idaho
Total Solar Eclipse 2017 track across Oregon and Idaho

At the intersection of I-5 and the eclipse path near Salem, Oregon, these are the characteristics of the eclipse:

Lat.: 44.803° N
Long.: 123.0318° W

Duration of Totality: 2 minutes 0 seconds

  • Start of partial eclipse (C1) : 09:05:18AM  Altitude=27.8° Azimuth=101.2°
  • Start of total eclipse (C2) : 10:17:13.0AM  Altitude=39.8°  Azimuth=116.8°
  • Maximum eclipse : 10:18:13AM  Altitude=40.0° Azimuth=117.0°
  • End of total eclipse (C3) : 10:19:13AM  Altitude=40.1° Azimuth=117.3°
  • End of partial eclipse (C4) : 11:37:50AM  Altitude=51.0° Azimuth=140.1°

Why this location? Well, if you look at the weather predictions and the track maps, you will see this location is easiest to get to from Victoria, and offers a decent chance of clear skies. Simply take a ferry to the mainland, and drive down I-5 to Oregon. This location is away from the coastal clouds, even though there is better weather available if you drive eastward through Oregon and possibly into southern Idaho. You can also seek out more scenic locales such as Wyoming, however now you will be traveling much further.

What if you can’t travel to the track of totality?

You can still see a partial solar eclipse from anywhere in North America. Use NASA’s Interactive Eclipse Map to get the calculated timing for the eclipse in the area you plan to observe from. Click and zoom to your area, then click on your observing spot to see a popup telling you how long the eclipse will last and what you will see.

Eclipse observing events in Victoria, BC, Canada – 90% coverage in Victoria

Weather map for the Total Solar Eclipse 2017 in Oregon
Weather map for the Total Solar Eclipse 2017 in Oregon

Weather

Weather always plays a big part in any solar eclipse, so being mobile is key to improving the odds of actually seeing the event should clouds threaten to obscure the Sun at the critical moment. Our very own Jay Anderson (former RASC Journal editor) is a weather expert, and specializes in forecasting weather for solar eclipses. His Eclipse website offers sage advice backed up with maps and charts depicting weather prospects for each eclipse happening in the world for the next several years. Read Jay’s analysis of the area you propose to observe from, so you understand how the weather might behave on eclipse day. Topography, elevation changes and local factors play into how the weather evolves throughout the day for a particular locale. Become a local weather expert, and you increase your chances for success!

Observing

Observing a Total Solar Eclipse is pretty easy, however that said, if you haven’t done it before, it’s nice to have experienced eclipse observers around to guide you through the process. Obviously the time of total eclipse is the main event, however other things happen beforehand, afterwards, and during an eclipse that are worthwhile.

You should try out any gear you propose to take with you before you leave. Make sure you have proper solar eclipse filters for any binoculars, camera lenses and telescopes you are bringing along. Take test photos of the Sun weeks before you leave, so you know your photo gear will work as expected. Always have a backup plan for when (not if) gear breaks, or you simply can’t get it to work properly. Remember, you only have a couple of minutes to see this event!

Finally, relax and enjoy the day. Arrive early. Try to manage your stress level. Just sit back in a reclining chair, have your solar glasses handy, and enjoy!

Safely observing a solar eclipse – read about how to safely observe a solar eclipse

DIY Box Pinhole Projector – to safely observe the eclipse with only a box and some aluminum foil!

Help!

If this will be your first time observing a total solar eclipse, no doubt you have many questions and concerns, and don’t know where to start. The resources presented here may be overwhelming. Please ask any questions you might have about eclipses at Astronomy Cafe, held each Monday evening. Your fellow RASC members have observed solar eclipses before…they can help!

Perhaps you prefer to leave it to someone else to organize for you, and take a tour. Tour organizers will ensure you are on the centreline for the event, will do their very best to seek clear skies (no guarantees though!), and will supply you with eclipse glasses and ensure you are as comfortable as possible throughout the event. Some suggestions:

  • RASC Eclipse 2017 – a scenic holiday to the midwest USA, a solar eclipse, and sponsored by RASC!
  • Sky & Telescope – overland to Nashville, seeing rockets and observatories along the way…and the eclipse
  • Travelquest – a tour company specializing in eclipses who are offering five different experiences for the 2017 eclipse

Resources

  • NASA’s Eclipse – a great starting point for information gathering and predictions
  • Eclipsophile – Jay Anderson’s weather predictions are a must to select a location that will likely have clear weather
  • Great American Eclipse – comprehensive information about this specific eclipse – where to go and what you will see
  • Eclipse 2017 – lots of home-grown advice about where to be and what to do
  • America’s 2017 Solar Eclipse – Sky & Telescope’s online resources for planning your eclipse adventure
  • MrEclipse – Fred Espenak’s guide to successfully experiencing and photographing an eclipse
  • Mr. Eclipse says west may be best… – Fred’s eclipse predictions to the Seattle Astronomical Society
  • Kendrick Astro – a Canadian astronomy dealer who sells solar filters for visual and photographic use