The big event is only one week away. Next Monday, August 21, a total solar eclipse will cross the United States. Being the obsessive person I am, of course I have already been making plans for the event. The three questions I get on Facebook and other outlets are, “Where are you planning to view the eclipse?”, “How are you planning to view the eclipse?”, and “What are your photography plans?” I’ll try to answer those in this post.
Where are you planning to view the eclipse?
First there was the choice of venue. Given our upcoming trip, this was no small matter of concern. Laura had thought we might travel to some exotic locale to view the eclipse. Since we live in the path of totality I suggested delaying our travel until afterwards. As it turns out, we wouldn’t have been able to find lodging along the path. Apparently everything was booked long ago.
If we’re viewing locally, then we still have some choices. Greenville will be in totality, but the center of the totality line runs from Clemson down through Columbia. If we moved a few miles to the west we would have 20 more seconds of totality. The problem is that everyone else has the same idea. Is 20 seconds worth dealing with the horrendous traffic? I read one article that said it would be like seven Clemson home games worth of traffic. Even Furman is expecting nearly 20,000 on campus for their eclipse view event. Ultimately we decided to walk around the corner to the local school playground.
Staying local means weather will be a crapshoot. This time of year we tend to get rain, afternoon storms, etc. The past week or so clouds have been a real problem. Since we’re now a week out, next Monday is finally showing up on Weather Underground. The forecast is for 20% rain and sunny skies. That could change.
We are hosting friends and family that don’t live in the path of the eclipse. Looks like it’s turning into a regular party. Since I’ve already done a post on my eclipse playlist, I may do a separate post on eclipse food. Glynda had already suggested the obvious – Sun Chips and Moon Pies. I may have to hit Cosco this week.
How are you planning to view the eclipse?
Last summer as we were cleaning out some of my father’s things I came across an old welder’s mask. I set it aside, thinking it might be a good way to view the eclipse. I may pull those out, but I also thought I’d get some eclipse glasses as well.
I knew I needed glasses that were ISO certified and I found some on Amazon that I thought would work. They had the proper certification numbers. The fact that they were made in China didn’t throw up any red flags (so to speak). At least, not yet. I bought a set of ten of them
Then I saw several articles talking about fake eclipse glasses on Amazon. It’s easy enough to stamp the ISO certification on paper without actually GETTING the certification. My doubts grew when I tried to go back to the product page on Amazon. I got a “page not available” error message. Not that the product was sold out, but it looked like the product didn’t even exist! I got two e-mails from the company asking if I’d received the glasses, but this missing presence on Amazon was disturbing.
NASA has a list of approved eclipse glasses and viewers. I was able to find some Lunt glasses from B&H Photo and ordered those. I felt better knowing that I had the proper eyewear.
But the story doesn’t end there…
I guess in order to cut their losses on possible liability suits, Amazon started issuing refunds on eclipse glasses that were not certified. I got an e-mail from them saying that my account had been refunded and that I should NOT use the glasses I purchased from them. I was glad I had found the Lunt glasses from B&H.
What are your photography plans?
I plan to attack this thing from multiple angles with multiple cameras. I couldn’t see purchasing an expensive “eclipse filter” for a one-time use. Instead, I purchased an 8×8 filter sheet from Thousand Oaks Optical (a NASA approved vendor). I’m going to use a light pole and clamp and aim my lens through it. I have yet to take the filter out of its cardboard holder.
As far as cameras, I’m going to use my older Nikon D50 with my 500mm lends and shoot through the filter. I’m going to use my D7000 with my f2 wide-angle lens for atmospheric shots and to try to capture star fields during totality.
I had thought about building a camera obscura, but I think the image would be too small to be useful. Instead, I’m either going to use my Celestron monocular or Laura’s old Bushnell telescope to create a projection of the eclipse on a white piece of cardboard. I want to use a GoPro camera to shoot full video and time-lapse of that projection.
If that weren’t enough, I’ll have a couple of cameras going with video pointing in various directions to capture the movement of shadows, etc.
So that’s what I’m going. Right now I’m just hoping that we have good weather for the event.