Cheshire Cat

Solar Eclipse Maximum March 20, 2015

When I was little (and there were 9 planets) I was very interested in astronomy. I had a telescope, a number of books, a start chart, and VCR tapes of astronomy shows. Eclipses especially intrigued me. I made my parents stand outside and film a lunar eclipse, and I have seen several of them since. One thing I had never seen was a solar eclipse. In my astronomy book, it listed August 21, 2017, as the date of the next total solar eclipse in the USA – an eternity to a 10 year old. Since then I have been waiting for that day. Over the past 25 years, we used the telescope to project an image of a small partial solar eclipse, which was interesting. When I arrived in Germany in August 1999 I was thrilled to learn that a total eclipse would be taking place in just a few days’ time. Unfortunately it was cloudy and rainy that day and I did not see the eclipse, although it was still thrilling to experience the darkness of totality.

Now 2017 isn’t that far away and I will do my best to experience the eclipse and take some pictures of the eclipse. Recently, I had a chance to practice, as there was a partial solar eclipse of about 70% in Southern Germany on March 20. I did a lot of research, especially because I didn’t want to damage my eyes or my camera sensor. The picture here is of the peak eclipse. I had a neutral density filter 14 on the lens, which was zoomed out to 250mm. The aperture was as small as possible and the shutter speed as fast as possible. The autofocus didn’t work, so I had to manually focus. Of course, I needed a tripod and used a remote shutter release. Now this seems obvious in retrospect, but it surprised me at the time – the sun moves fast. I needed to adjust my camera about every 1-2 minutes to keep the sun in frame. In post processing, I just took the highlights down a bit and increased the sharpening. I cropped the picture to make the sun look bigger as well.

I was happy with the results, even if it looks like the Cheshire Cat was grinning at me.

Camera: Canon 600D
Lens: EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II at 250mm
Aperture: f/25.0
Shutter speed: 1/4000
ISO: 100
Filter: ND filter 14
Postprocessing: Lightroom

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