Evening Photo Special: This Year’s Total Solar Eclipse

Tonight, instead of posting a single photo like I usually do, I thought I’d do something a bit different.

This August, a solar eclipse occurred, and was visible across the lower 48 states, although most of the country only saw a partial eclipse.  Certainly, a lot of people found that pretty cool, especially if they’re total astronomy geeks like I am.  But others looked at it and thought to themselves, “What’s the big deal?”  I get why they’d think that.  After all, you still shouldn’t look at the sun, and although things get dimmer, the sky is still blue and the sun is still shining.  Hardly Earth-shattering.

But seeing the eclipse from the narrow path of totality is completely different.  The sky goes dusky immediately as you move behind the Moon’s shadow.  Automatic street lights come on and animals start making the noises they normally make after sunset.  And a halo around the Moon is visible: the Sun’s corona.

My family and I made the journey to Columbia, South Carolina and luckily there were clear skies the day of the eclipse.  I brought my camera along with me.  Since you’re only behind the moon’s shadow for about two minutes, I made sure I had the the tripod set up and a good aperture and shutter speed selected well before the eclipse began.  Since I wanted multiple exposures, however, I made sure to set the camera to adjust shutter speed and wheeled it up and then down while the eclipse was occurring.

I managed to get a good variety of pictures.  The first few pictures clearly show solar prominences (what are typically called solar flares), which are the pink spots.

Solar Eclipse 1Solar Eclipse 2

A slightly longer exposure time shows the corona more clearly.

Solar Eclipse 3Solar Eclipse 4Solar Eclipse 5

Finally, once the Sun peaked back out from behind the moon, I quickly reduced the exposure time and snapped these pictures showing both the corona and sunlight.  As the exposure time got shorter, the solar prominences became visible again.

Solar Eclipse 6Solar Eclipse 7Solar Eclipse 8Solar Eclipse 9Solar Eclipse 10

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