On Thursday October 23rd there will be an opportunity to view a partial solar eclipse in the northern hemisphere. If you have never photographed a solar eclipse this is an opportunity get some awesome photographs as well as to prepare for the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. (See tips for photographing a solar eclipse at the end of this post.)
In order to photograph a solar eclipse it is necessary to have a solar filter for your camera or telescope. Photographic neutral density filters are not recommended since they do not block out the more harmful wavelengths of UV light when looking at or photographing the sun. I recommend purchasing a true solar filter.
Solar filters will have an optical density of 5.0. This means that they block out 99.9999% of the suns visible light. In addition, they block out 100% f the sun’s harmful radiation. While photographic filters with an optical density of 3.8 (15 stops) can be used to photograph an eclipse they do not block out the harmful radiation and improper use can result in eye damage.
An economical solar filter can be made by purchasing a sheet of solar film and making your own filter. There are two type of solar film available, black polymer and Baader astro solar film.
The Baader planetarium has posted the following information on how to make your own solar filter: “Making a solar filter”
Do not wait till the last minute to purchase a solar filter. Many sources run out in advance of this material. By purchasing the filter now you will be able to use the filter to photograph the upcoming partial solar eclipse and you can store it safely to use for the total eclipse in 2017.
There are many great tools and resources available online for photographers to determine the dates, times and locations for photographing an eclipse. I use a combination of The Photographer’s Ephemeris, Google Earth and Stellarium to plan an eclipse shoot in advance.
During this partial solar eclipse the Moon covers only parts of the Sun as seen from San Jose. Timeanddate.com has a simple animation showing approximately what the eclipse will look from San Jose (weather permitting): Timeanddate.com:http://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/usa/san-jose?iso=20141023
In San Jose, CA the eclipse begins at 1:55 PM with the maximum eclipse occurring at 3:18 PM. The eclipse ends at 4:34 PM.
There are some very important safety tips to remember when photographing an eclipse. Not observing these can result in serious eye damage or damaged cameras. This is a photo of a DSLR with a hole burned in the shutter. The photographer was fortunate not to have damaged their eyes.
More information on how to photograph a solar eclipse can be found at the Starcircle Academy website and Nikon websites listed below.
Starcircle Academy: http://starcircleacademy.com/2012/04/solar-filter/
WARNING: Never stare directly at the sun without a proper, safe filter. Failure to do so can result in serious eye injury or permanent blindness. No. 14 welder’s glass filter is acceptable, but ordinary sunglasses and polarizing or neutral-density filters used in regular photography are not safe and should not be used.
San Jose Camera has Solar Eclipse viewing filters and Black Polymer filter squares to make your own solar filter for your camera.
These are glasses made specifically for viewing solar eclipses, usually made of cardboard. The lenses are solar filters that remove 99.99% of the Sun’s visible light and 100% of the harmful UV rays. They’re usually made of either Mylar or black polymer, the latter being the safest. Make sure they have the “CE” label on them, i.e. “Certified Eclipse”.
Welding glasses used to protect a welder’s eyes from damage can protect your eyes during a solar eclipse. They range on a scale of #1 to #14, with #14 being the darkest shade of glass. If you’re going to use welder glasses, only get the #14 ones. Anything less and you could still damage your eyes. Stacking two lower grades of glass will not provide adequate protection against the Sun.
The safest way to view a solar eclipse is using a homemade pinhole projector. Why is it the safest? Because, you are not viewing the Sun directly, you are just viewing a projection of it.