Gaze into the Heavens

My Solar Eclipse Photos

On August 21, 2017, we observed and photographed the great North American solar eclipse of 2017 from a location near Lebanon, Tennessee. Our photography rig included a Canon 6D DLSR camera mounted on an iOptron SkyTracker Pro equatorial head via a separate Manfrotto 460MG camera head to give us pointing flexibility, a Feisol PB-70 Panning Base for easy azimuth adjustment, and a Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod. We used the newer version of the SkyTracker that has an option for setting the tracking rate to match the apparent motion of the Sun in the sky. While tracking wasn’t necessary for most of the shorter exposures we were attempting, it saved us from having to stop and center the Sun in the lens every couple of minutes. The lens we used was a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS US zoom. During the partial phases of the eclipse, we used two different solar filters placed over the front of the camera lens to safely center and image the sun — a glass solar filter made by Thousand Oaks Optical that gave the Sun a warm, orange tone, and a Kendrick Solar Filter that uses Baader Solar Film and that gave the Sun a white tone. During totality, we removed the filters and imaged the Sun directly through the camera lens, and we locked the focal length of the lens at 400mm and set the ISO and aperture settings on the camera to 200 and f/8, respectively. Only the exposure lengths varied from shot to shot. To help us enjoy the eclipse visually without having to fiddle with the camera constantly, we brought along a laptop computer loaded with a software program called “Eclipse Orchestrator,” which is made by Moonglow Technologies. We had to contend with some clouds during totality, but we still got some nice results. Here are our best photos of the big event: 

Above is an image we took of the fully eclipsed Sun, with two red “prominences” and the whitish inner corona of the Sun visible above the dark limb of the Moon. Exposure of 1/2000 of a second at f/8, ISO 100.

Another image of the fully eclipsed Sun through wispy clouds showing more of the corona. Exposure of 1/2000th of a second at f/8, ISO 200.

The image above captured the “Baily’s Beads,” which are pearl-like beads of light from the Sun’s disk that shine though low gaps in the hills on the limb of the Moon and look like a necklace. Exposure of 1/4000th of a second at f/8, ISO 200.

Above is a photo showing the beginning of the “diamond ring effect” just as the total eclipse was ending. The burst of light from the Sun’s disk past the lunar limb just as the eclipse ends gives the impression of a brilliant diamond atop a ring. This shot also shows the clouds we were contending with during totality. Exposure of 1/100th of a second at f/8, ISO 200.

Above is a photo of the partially eclipsed Sun about an hour after totality ended through a Thousand Oaks solar filter (exposure of 1/1000th of a second at f/8, ISO 200), followed by a similar shot taken a few moments later through a Kendrick solar filter for comparison (exposure of 1/1250th of a second at f/8, ISO 100). In both images, dark sunspots are visible on the Sun’s disk. Sunspots are areas of the Sun’s outer photosphere that are slightly cooler (between 2,700° and 4,200° Celsius) than the surrounding areas (which average around 5,500° Celsius).

Finally, above is a longer exposure of the fully eclipsed Sun, with the outer corona visible through the clouds and the bright star Regulus in the constellation Leo visible a short distance away. Exposure of 5 seconds at f/8, ISO 200.

This was definitely a “bucket list” experience for me, and great fun! You can read more details about my eclipse experience on my blog page here.

Go to Planetary and Lunar Photos