Monday’s total eclipse will be the first for many Americans. A hardcore group of enthusiasts, who structure their lives around the phenomenon, says: Welcome to the club.
On the morning of August 11, 1999, Kate Russo and her boyfriend were traveling on a bus from Belfast to Paris when they found themselves in the small French coastal village of Fécamp. A total solar eclipse was about to appear over Western Europe; Russo had heard a news report about the celestial event and decided to make a quick stop to check it out. As she and her partner walked from the bus station down to the beach, they came upon a huge crowd, with tens of thousands of people—a massive eclipse party. People gathered along the seafront and up against the town, listening to music, eating and drinking. They were there for the same reason as Russo: to watch and wait.
It seems that everyone is eagerly awaiting the shady drama that will be enacted in the skies over North America on Aug. 21. It is a play whose script was written eons ago: On that third Monday in August, the celestial wanderings of the sun, Earth and moon will cause our natural satellite to pass directly in front of the sun, resulting in a total eclipse on Aug. 21.
The narrow band of totality, averaging some 70 miles (113 kilometers) wide and stretching about 2,500 miles (4,023 km) from the Pacific coast of Oregon to the Atlantic coast of South Carolina, will provide a spectacle that has not been seen from any part of the contiguous United States in nearly 40 years.
To say that this has been an eagerly awaited astronomical event is an understatement. [The Best ISO-Certified Gear to See the 2017 Solar Eclipse]
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Don’t miss this month’s total solar eclipse because you’re stuck in traffic or blanketed by a canopy of clouds.
On Aug. 21, the moon will completely blot out the sun along a narrow strip of land from Oregon to South Carolina, in the first total solar eclipse visible from the United States mainland since 1979.
Space.com is tracking the weather and traffic conditions along this 70-mile-wide (113 kilometers) “path of totality,” which stretches across 14 states. Below you’ll find up-to-date information to help plan your eclipse-viewing adventure. [The Best ISO-Certified Gear to See the 2017 Solar Eclipse]
A few quick words of advice: Stay flexible, and be open to viewing the eclipse from a relatively out-of-the way site within the path of totality, such as a state park or national forest. And arrive at your preferred viewing spot at least a day in advance, to give yourself time to seek out a less crowded or sunnier area if need be. Some of the places discussed below will doubtless get very crowded on Aug. 21.
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Cades Cove has a magnetic effect on millions of annual visitors to the Smokies. The wide open fields are evidence of a once thriving community that was relocated at the inception of the park. Fields of hay are still grown each year while the deer, bear and other natural residents roam freely while the visitors drive slowly around it perimeter by bicycle or automobile. The visitor center at the halfway point includes small store, a gristmill and several outbuilding that remind all of a simpler life from the past.
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If you’re excited to shoot the eclipse but you don’t have a solar filter to protect your camera, here are some directions for a handy DIY solar filter that will allow you to get some shots.
I am a rank amateur in photography, but I do have a Macgyver streak, and was actually born in Kentucky, so I have some leeway lest you judge me too harshly as being overly Bubba.
The process is simple:
- get a cardboard mailing tube (the beefier the better) that fits over your lens (barely) … anywhere shipping stuff is sold
- cut two sections of the tube (more on this later)…cut the film to fit the outer diameter of the tube (or do it later as I did)
- glue the film to one section of tube
- glue the other section of the tube to the assembly
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What if you had the chance to film something 55 miles wide traveling just over Mach3 with your drone? As it turns out, on Aug. 21, you’ll have that very opportunity. A solar eclipse – or alignment of the sun, moon and earth – is taking place for the first time in 38 years. The last cosmic event of this magnitude happened on Feb. 26, 1979 – a time long before you could use the battery-powered supercomputer in your pocket to fly a self-stabilizing, GPS-guided aircraft with a 4k camera, using a high-bandwidth spread spectrum wireless control system. (Sheesh, drones sound so impressive when you describe them like that.)
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In 1995, with a borrowed telescope and a couple of cameras, Babak Tafreshi traveled to a remote locale halfway across Iran to record an event that lasted a mere 14 seconds. It was a total solar eclipse—the first of 12 he has photographed in a career that has earned him steady work for National Geographic.
“The phenomenon is quite stunning,” says the photojournalist. “The change of the light and the environment is very dramatic.” It’s not uncommon to see birds hustling back to their nests and mosquitoes springing to life in midday.
Needless to say, you can’t help but be deeply moved by the experience. “It happens to everybody,” Tafreshi admits, “even those scientists who have seen total eclipses plenty of times.”
On August 21, Trafreshi will be here in the U.S. to record the Great American Eclipse, which will be visible across much of the country. By now, he’s accustomed to dealing with the dramatic changes in light and the challenges presented by the oh-so-brief window when the moon completely obscures the sun.
If you’re one of the lucky ones in the total eclipse’s path, here’s what you need to know to photograph the event.
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(Editor’s note: Marie Tartar continues her series of preparations she and her husband, Steve Eilenberg, are making for their trip to the Grand Tetons later this month to photograph the total solar eclipse. Here she shares their preparations regarding photography.)
In part 1 of this series, we discussed the where of preparing for what is being billed as the Great North American Solar Eclipse of 2017. This is an event not to be missed if you can swing it. The next time a total solar eclipse will occur over the Tetons will be in the year 2252, so this is a unique convergence indeed. To experience up to two minutes and 40 seconds of one of the great celestial wonders of our time, it will be necessary to be along the 60-70 mile-wide path of totality, which will sweep the continental US on Monday, August 21, 2017, beginning in Oregon and ending in South Carolina. My husband Steve and I, with two friends, will be in a particularly beautiful spot to experience and photograph the eclipse, Grand Teton National Park.
In Part 2 of this series, we discussed the need for some specialized equipment to safely view and shoot the partial eclipse run up to and denouement of the big event. Fortunately, these 2 essential items need not be expensive to be effective. The two absolute musts are eclipse glasses for your eyes and a solar filter for your camera. Only during the brief phase of totality will these not be necessary. The lunar equivalent of a wide angle shot of the eclipse, where the moon is an element, but not the subject of the shot.
With these plans and basics in place, we now need a photographic plan. The following comments assume you want to directly view and photograph the eclipse, both during the partial phases and during totality. There are easier options…you could just enjoy the experience, which is fleeting and quite unforgettable. Even photographically, there are less difficult options for memorializing the eclipse than directly shooting the eclipsed sun. One could use a wide-angle lens, having pre-selected a scene with an interesting foreground, perhaps a lake or mountains, and include the totally eclipsed sun in the overall scene. Of course, it will be quite small in the frame. The feature image leading into this post, by my husband Steve, of Jenny Lake, is an example of a potential foreground which might be utilized to frame the eclipsed sun between the Tetons. If you are up for the challenge of directly photographing the eclipse, read on…
At a recent apartment blaze in Oakland, California, a sheriff deputy directing firefighters with a drone-mounted video camera encountered a new hazard: a civilian quad copter that buzzed onto the scene.
“It’s happened twice in the past few months,” said Alameda County Deputy Sheriff Richard Hassna, the department’s chief pilot who was using the device. “We’re overhead at the scene of a fire relaying information to the command agency and a hobbyist flies right below us and parks.”
See More @ Bloomberg Technology