Solar eclipse

Solar eclipses are rare events. If you’re lucky, you may see a handful in your lifetime. This morning was one of those times where the planets aligned (quite literally!) as the Moon transited the Sun for a partial solar eclipse. From my vantage point in York in the north of England the eclipse was around 90%.

Moon transit sequence

In August 1999 I travelled a few hundred miles down to the very tip of England to witness a total solar eclipse, only for a thick blanket of cloud to completely obscure the moment of totality. Thankfully the notoriously cloudy skies of the UK were crystal clear this morning, allowing me to take the sequence of shots shown here.

Eclipse animation sequenceThis image from an orbiting weather satellite shows how lucky I was with the weather. Not much of England escaped the blanket of cloud, but the small patch of clear sky right above my position shows how fortunate I was! It actually clouded over just as the eclipse was coming to an end.

solar eclipse from spaceThe partial eclipse took a couple of hours from start to finish, giving plenty of time to look for another interesting phenomena caused by the event – crescent shaped shadows… These particular ones were made by the gaps between the leaves of a bush acting as natural lenses, focusing dozens of projections of the Sun on to a nearby garden table.

crescent shaped shadows during eclipseI’m hoping to make the trip to the US in a couple of years time for the total solar eclipse in 2017. The Grand Teton national park in Wyoming looks like a good place to be.

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Sunspots

The current solar maximum is on track to become the weakest in over 100 years. That is pretty disappointing news (and slightly worrisome!) if you’re a fan of auroras, solar flares and sunspots. But despite the low activity, I have put the bargain £12 sigma and 2x tele-converter to use with some solar shots. Here are a couple which make use of the ND filter and the £3 Hoya 80B filter. The lens and converter combo is surprisingly sharp when stopped down to f8.

sunspots

I had to wait patiently for a few days to get this shot of a passenger jet transiting the sun. It’s always been a mini aim of mine as it really adds some scale and drama to the shot.

sunspots

DetailsNikon D7000Sigma 75-200mm/f3.8 (at 400mm with 2x converter) with Hoya ND400 filter. 1/8000’s at iso 100.

sunspots suns limb

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