The Great 2017 USA Solar Eclipse

By Anton Winter

The 2017 Solar Eclipse of 2017 traversed the entire contiguous United States, an event that hasn’t occurred since June 8 1918, and won’t again until at least 2024.

From my backyard in San Mateo, California, I had prepped and set up days ahead of schedule for the eclipse. I had a test run the weekend before shooting the full disc Sun to make sure I had my gear, my solar filter and tracking process sorted before the great event. The notable issue here though is I’m used to a full star field to gain ‘3 star’ polar alignment for long duration, precise, star tracking with my HEQ5 Pro Go-To mount. During the day though this wasn’t possible, so I had to get polar alignment as accurately as I could with nothing more than my iPhone and the SkySafari Pro iOS App (ask me if you want to know the details on how I did that!).

Regardless of all the preparation I had done, I refused to leave my telescopes out to the elements the nights before so I was forced to test my rehearsed alignment the morning of the eclipse. Of course Northern California weather dictated that there would be fast moving cloud cover… I was freaking out, I was rejecting phone calls from friends and refusing to talk to my family until I had my alignment sorted.. There was no way I was going to miss imaging this Eclipse!

The Eclipse had already started and was tens of minutes into the Eclipse starting when I was finally able to get a more precise alignment and get reasonably accurate tracking of the Sun. Now could kick off imaging!

This was my first time seeing a Solar Eclipse and what a sight it was! As we neared maximum coverage it got notably cooler and substantially dimmer. As an Australian that has moved the San Francisco Bay Area this really reminded me of Home with the ‘annual’ Summer Australian bush fires where the smoke obscures the Sun with smoke, however this time it was purely the Moon occulting the Sun!

Once I had a good (enough) alignment I had my telescope and QHY183C camera snapping away as fast as it could while I enjoyed the event with my Solar Glasses and my Astro Binoculars, with solar filters attached of course!

Given I had let my laptop and camera just go off in an automated fashion, where I only had to fix my (lame) tracking alignment every so often I ended up having 2280 images that I needed to process after the event. Of those 2280 photos only ~33% of the images made the cut due to the fast moving and barely visible clouds that ruined most of the shots.

Of those 2280 images I settled only a few that I wanted to share. Below is some of those images. Enjoy!