Eclipse of the Sun – 20th March 2015

At this evening’s club meeting, folk were asking for information about the total eclipse of the Sun on 20th March this year. The eclipse is total if you are lucky enough to view it from the Faroe Islands or Svalbard. From Scotland, we should see a significant partial eclipse, with the Sun shrinking to a small crescent. The further North and West you can get, the better the eclipse will be.

Having said that, the eclipse happens around sunrise (from 08:30am until 10:44am when viewed from from Edinburgh), so it is going to be visible in the East. To photograph the eclipse you need a place with a good, unobstructed view East and East South East. The East coast would be a good place. The very best place (if the weather holds up) would be the Western side of a loch, or Eastern side of an island, up in the far North West of Scotland. Here are some links to more information about the eclipse:

http://www.solareclipse2015.org.uk/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse_of_March_20,_2015

Be aware that it is still dangerous to look at the Sun during a partial eclipse. You will need dark glasses to protect your eyes. A wide-angle shot with a short exposure should be ok, but if you use a telephoto lens your camera will need protection with solar film. (You might get away with a 10 stop ND filter and a short exposure, but don’t look through the viewfinder.) An alternative way to photograph the eclipse is to project the Sun’s image onto a white card through a pinhole. The obvious shot is one looking towards the Sun, but you might notice some weird effects happening away from the Sun. Look what happens to shadows. The eclipse will create some interesting light.

Let’s hope the weather holds up. The last time we had an event like this I ended up driving down the A68 chasing the nearest gap in the clouds. Best of luck.

Steven.

P.S. If you want to buy eye protection and solar film from a company other than amazon, you can try the company run by some of my ex-colleagues from the Royal Greenwich Observatory:

http://www.green-witch.com/2015-solar-eclipse-416-c.asp

If you have ever burned a piece of paper by focussing the light from the Sun onto it with a magnifying glass, you’ll know why your eyes and your camera need protecting. Solar film (which can protect both your camera and your eyes) is equivalent to a 17 stop ND filter. A 10 stop ND filter can protect your camera (as long as you use short exposures) but it isn’t dark enough to protect your eyes.

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