Cleveland is Shadowed by the Moon. It’s Nothing to Brag About, But We’ll Take it!

 

For those of you not lucky enough to be in the path of celestial events, I will give you a little tour of what a Total Eclipse of the sun was like today.

I’ve had some crude amateur experience photographing a partial eclipse of the sun that occurred in Cleveland in August of 2017.  I didn’t know a thing about photographing the sun or moon but I gave it a go back then, using an improvised camera filter made out of discarded 4×5 transparency film.  (I am one of those nearly extinct species who uses a “real” camera these days.)  This time around I tried using those cheapo dorky-looking Solar Eclipse glasses attached with duct tape as a camera filter.  It worked out pretty well.

I arose this morning to a totally overcast day, but my worst fears (and Cleveland’s) were abated when the sun came out around 10:30 AM and pushed the clouds aside.  I did some test shots on the morning sun to get my bearings.  I fiddled with some settings and I came up with this:

No, that is not a Florida orange and that is not a navel on its surface. It’s a gigantic sunspot, dozens of times larger than our own planet.  It kinda makes you feel small!  Notice its position on the sun.

With camera and zoom lens mounted on a tripod, and filter crafted with Red Green technology, I caught the first wisp of our moon kissing the sun, at 1:59 PM:

As the moon creeps in at about the 5 o’clock angle of the sun, notice that the sunspot has already moved from its original position this morning, only about three or four hours after the earlier test shot was taken.  It must be moving at incredible speed.  Another smaller sunspot now appears, coming around from the other side, like a tiny bug crawling on a ripe fruit.  The colors may not be completely uniform in these pictures because in order to bring out the detail I had to process these pictures by desaturating the color and reconstituting it by eye.  They are also in sharper focus than the test shot.

The moon is now making a major move on the sun.  You wouldn’t know it from looking around or up at the sky.  Only those people with the dorky-looking glasses know what is going on!

We are almost at the half-way point.  My wife tried to take some pictures with her cell phone using the eclipse glasses but with no luck.

Things are really moving along.  We have major coverage.  It was getting just a little dimmer outside, but not nearly as dim as you would expect, seeing this picture.  If you didn’t know about the eclipse, you would not suspect anything was amiss at this point.  Even just a little bit of sunshine is powerful enough to light up the sky.  These filtered pictures are deceiving.

With over 90% coverage it was starting to look a little less bright outside, but still no inkling of what was to come.  It just seemed as if a cloud was drifting in front of the sun.

That was my last filtered picture before the big blackout.  It was getting noticeably dimmer outside as I scrambled to unwrap the duct tape holding the filter on my camera for this 2001 Space Odyssey event (for those of you under 40 you may have to look that up!  And for those of you unaccustomed to classical music, look up “Also Sprach Zarathustra”).  While the sun was still clinging to a tiny sliver of light, I snapped the first picture with the filter off of my lens:

An explosion of light overwhelms from the tiniest crack of light emanating from the sun.  That’s why we wear the dorky glasses.  If you look closely you can see a very vague outline of the moon beneath the bright light.  Yet within seconds of that last picture, I snapped this next one with no change in settings on the camera:

And suddenly, the curtain dropped and everything went dark in a matter of seconds.  It’s as if someone just blew out the candle at night!  I’ve never seen anything like it before.  Neighbors immediately began cheering and somebody nearby blew off fireworks!  Once the lights went out, the celestial bodies seemed to just hang there in unison without moving.  We could look directly at them with no filtered glasses.  I knew that the time of totality was supposed to be only four minutes, but it seemed like an eternity.  I began snapping multiple pictures at different shutter speed increments just to make sure I had a good shot.  This next one was taken right in the middle of maximum totality, under which our house sat right smack in the middle, at 3:15 PM:

Wow!  I’ve enhanced the tonal values in the next picture to show the corona more clearly (for you beer drinkers out there).  It is much larger than you would deduce from the previous photo:

As Benny Hill once exclaimed when talking about his brave career as an astronaut, “I flew right into the Solar Plexus!”

Caryn alerted me to the fact that there was a kind of “dim sunset” in all directions, despite us being in the dark.  When the interminable eclipse was over, the sun came roaring back with a blast as sudden as it had disappeared.  Within seconds of the first tiny ray of light blaring through, I snapped one last picture without the filter on my camera:

Down the street I heard one of my neighbors playing George Harrison, singing “Here Comes the Sun.”

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  1. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Wonderful pictures.

     

    This was my second total eclipse, after seeing the 2017 eclipse in Wyoming.

    We were down in Fairfield Illinois.  During most (or possibly all) of totality there was a red “dot” on the bottom edge of the eclipse.  Lots of speculation from the people around us whether it was a solar flare. I didn’t take any pictures, just tried to soak in the all-too-fast experience.

    Shortly after the end of totality, a guy in the crowd yelled “Let’s hear it for the Solar System!” and everybody clapped.

     

    • #1
  2. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Awesome! Thanks for the tour!

    • #2
  3. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    I have some actual Eclipse View model telescopes from Meade, but they weren’t of use where I live now.

     

    • #3
  4. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Wonderful pictures.

     

    This was my second total eclipse, after seeing the 2017 eclipse in Wyoming.

    We were down in Fairfield Illinois. During most (or possibly all) of totality there was a red “dot” on the bottom edge of the eclipse. Lots of speculation from the people around us whether it was a solar flare. I didn’t take any pictures, just tried to soak in the all-too-fast experience.

    As a matter of fact my wife and I saw a very similar thing – tiny red flares at the bottom and side of the Sun during total eclipse.  We could see it with the naked eye and it came out in my photos.  They were only visible during totality.  Here’s a close-up:

     

    • #4
  5. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Steven Seward: Down the street I heard one of my neighbors playing George Harrison, singing “Here Comes the Sun”

    It’s good to have a sense of humor.

    • #5
  6. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    Wonderful!

    We got clouded out here in upstate NY; thanks for showing us what was going on up there. Great photos!

    • #6
  7. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    Much better pics than I got, but the live watching was good at Russell’s Point, Ohio, where a friend had an eclipse party. 

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Amazing shots, Steve. Thanks.

    • #8
  9. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    Thanks for the pictures.  They remind me of a comment in the comic XKCD the other day that a partial eclipse is like a cool sunset, but a total eclipse is like the sky broke.

     

    • #9
  10. KCVolunteer Lincoln
    KCVolunteer
    @KCVolunteer

    This was about the maximum in my area. It was dark enough for the parking lot lights to come on at Meijer.

    My wife tried to take some pictures with her cell phone using the eclipse glasses but with no luck.

    Yes, I had the same problem. Her pictures probably looked like this

    I took about a dozen before realizing the phone wasn’t picking the correct exposure time.

    I then switched to video and got I decent image of the crescent at very close to our maximum. But with no zoom it is tiny. 

    • #10
  11. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Nice shooting, Steve.  You got very good pictures of all those red solar flares.  By way of contrast, this photo from the 2008 eclipse has none at all.

    • #11
  12. Richard O'Shea Coolidge
    Richard O'Shea
    @RichardOShea

    I was in northern Ohio as well at a family eclipse party.  The difference in light between just a sliver of the sun showing and the totality of the full eclipse was surprising.  It was like going from a cloudy, rainy day to night time instantly.  Then daytime came back as just a sliver of the sun shown around the moon.  Incredible!

    Great photos!

    • #12
  13. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Richard O'Shea (View Comment):

    I was in northern Ohio as well at a family eclipse party. The difference in light between just a sliver of the sun showing and the totality of the full eclipse was surprising. It was like going from a cloudy, rainy day to night time instantly. Then daytime came back as just a sliver of the sun shown around the moon. Incredible!

    Great photos!

    The difference in light levels was impressive. We were at a watch party at a friend’s house 20 miles east of home and got to experience totality (northern Texas). I was struck first that even as a large portion of the sun was obscured (40 -50 %) we could detect no difference in the ambient light level. Even as the sun was 75 % obscured, we couldn’t detect a difference. Only when it got to the sliver of sun could we with bare eyes detect any real difference in the ambient light level. And then suddenly it went dark. 

    But people back in our town (just 20 miles away, and about ten miles outside the path of totality) where the sun got down to just a sliver, my friends reported the ambient light got somewhat dim, but more like we get when there’s a thick cloud cover – far from total darkness.  

    • #13
  14. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Wonderful pictures.

    This was my second total eclipse, after seeing the 2017 eclipse in Wyoming.

    We were down in Fairfield Illinois. During most (or possibly all) of totality there was a red “dot” on the bottom edge of the eclipse. Lots of speculation from the people around us whether it was a solar flare. I didn’t take any pictures, just tried to soak in the all-too-fast experience.

    As a matter of fact my wife and I saw a very similar thing – tiny red flares at the bottom and side of the Sun during total eclipse. We could see it with the naked eye and it came out in my photos. They were only visible during totality. Here’s a close-up:

    I talked to another friend who told me they all marveled at the “Golden Ring” during totality.  I went back to look at my pictures in detail, and sure enough, there are many more solar flares than I thought.  Here is a picture taken right after totality which shows a bunch of them around the top of the Sun:

    That really big one at the bottom only became apparent after a minute or two when the Moon started uncovering it.  Here is a better enhanced picture of it:

    I blew this up on my computer and did some measurements of the huge solar flare at the bottom in comparison to the whole orb.  Looking up the diameter of the Sun at 864,600 miles long, I did a rough calculation that the flare jutted out into space for 37,590 miles!  That is the equivalent of nearly five Earth diameters.  You could roast Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars on that barbecue flame, and still have room left over for hot dogs and hamburgers!

    • #14
  15. Lunchbox Gerald Coolidge
    Lunchbox Gerald
    @Jose

    Thanks for posting this.  I decided to miss the eclipse.  I have family who live in the path of totality, but it would have taken 6 days of driving to get there and back.

    • #15
  16. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    I talked to another friend who told me they all marveled at the “Golden Ring” during totality. I went back to look at my pictures in detail, and sure enough, there are many more solar flares than I thought. Here is a picture taken right after totality which shows a bunch of them around the top of the Sun:

    That really big one at the bottom only became apparent after a minute or two when the Moon started uncovering it. Here is a better enhanced picture of it:

    I blew this up on my computer and did some measurements of the huge solar flare at the bottom in comparison to the whole orb. Looking up the diameter of the Sun at 864,600 miles long, I did a rough calculation that the flare jutted out into space for 37,590 miles! That is the equivalent of nearly five Earth diameters. You could roast Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars on that barbecue flame, and still have room left over for hot dogs and hamburgers!

    It turns out that most of those tiny pink lights were not Sun flares, but something called “Bailey’s Beads.”  They are caused by the Sun shining through some irregular peaks and valleys on the Moon’s edges.

    https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/bailys-beads.html

    The really big one that I measured may or may not be an actual flare.  Oh well!

     

     

    • #16
  17. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    I talked to another friend who told me they all marveled at the “Golden Ring” during totality. I went back to look at my pictures in detail, and sure enough, there are many more solar flares than I thought. Here is a picture taken right after totality which shows a bunch of them around the top of the Sun:

    That really big one at the bottom only became apparent after a minute or two when the Moon started uncovering it. Here is a better enhanced picture of it:

    I blew this up on my computer and did some measurements of the huge solar flare at the bottom in comparison to the whole orb. Looking up the diameter of the Sun at 864,600 miles long, I did a rough calculation that the flare jutted out into space for 37,590 miles! That is the equivalent of nearly five Earth diameters. You could roast Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars on that barbecue flame, and still have room left over for hot dogs and hamburgers!

    It turns out that most of those tiny pink lights were not Sun flares, but something called “Bailey’s Beads.” They are caused by the Sun shining through some irregular peaks and valleys on the Moon’s edges.

    https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/bailys-beads.html

    The really big one that I measured may or may not be an actual flare. Oh well!

     

     

    The big red one was visible to the naked eye (as a red dot) throughout totality from our location.  I haven’t seen any coverage about it, but I’d guess it was a flare.

    • #17
  18. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    I talked to another friend who told me they all marveled at the “Golden Ring” during totality. I went back to look at my pictures in detail, and sure enough, there are many more solar flares than I thought. Here is a picture taken right after totality which shows a bunch of them around the top of the Sun:

    That really big one at the bottom only became apparent after a minute or two when the Moon started uncovering it. Here is a better enhanced picture of it:

    I blew this up on my computer and did some measurements of the huge solar flare at the bottom in comparison to the whole orb. Looking up the diameter of the Sun at 864,600 miles long, I did a rough calculation that the flare jutted out into space for 37,590 miles! That is the equivalent of nearly five Earth diameters. You could roast Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars on that barbecue flame, and still have room left over for hot dogs and hamburgers!

    It turns out that most of those tiny pink lights were not Sun flares, but something called “Bailey’s Beads.” They are caused by the Sun shining through some irregular peaks and valleys on the Moon’s edges.

    https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/bailys-beads.html

    The really big one that I measured may or may not be an actual flare. Oh well!

    Baily’s beads are seen when you’re on the very edge of the path of totality. At least that’s my understanding. If you were inside the path, you caught a flare. And a big ‘un. 

    • #18
  19. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    • #19
  20. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Just stumbled across this on Twitter.  We were in Fairfield.  Almost parked at the airport where these guys were, but ended up about a mile away instead.  Did see them buzzing around before totality.  

    • #20
  21. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    I haven’t heard anyone say they saw the comet during totality. Anyone get lucky?

    • #21
  22. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    I’ve since had confirmation that the big red flare at the bottom of the Moon was indeed a Solar Prominence.  Who knew that there was more to the Sun than Sun spots and Solar Flares!  (Though I have long enjoyed Sun Chips, especially the Garden Salsa flavor)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_prominence

    • #22
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