Observing with Street Lights

Observing with Street Lights
Dark sky sites not always necessary to see the Milky Way (This image was taken ouside of a B&B in Julian, CA)

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Hooray, great viewing of the 2019 eclipse in Chile; Flew to Atacama Desert and shot the Milky Way

Greetings from Palmia Observatory


Well, it’s July 2 and we have arrived at our old mine platform in La Higuera, Chile, to view the 2019 total solar eclipse.

This photo shows the landscape below us and where the whole area is filled with cars and campers of other expectant eclipse viewers.

Looking down on the town of La Higuera, Chile, from our eclipse viewing site (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Looking down on the town of La Higuera, Chile, from our eclipse viewing site (Source: Palmia Observatory)



This photo shows the pre-eclipse light conditions at our observing platform.  During totality we can compare the same area and see how dark it gets here and yet the distant views are more like dawn or dusk.
Some of the hopeful observers on our old mine platform eclipse viewing site (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Some of the hopeful observers on our old mine platform eclipse viewing site (Source: Palmia Observatory)



Ok, the time has finally arrived.  The moon has taken its first bite out of the moon.  Now I captured earlier instances too, but that first instant didn’t matter much.  This image shows more of the crescent nature of the eclipse as the circular moon moves in front of the circular sun.  All of the solar images were taken with Canon M100 mirrorless camera with 200mm focal length.
One of the first bites out of the sun using 200mm, Canon M100 camera (Source: Palmia Observatory)
One of the first bites out of the sun using 200mm, Canon M100 camera (Source: Palmia Observatory)



While we waited for totality, it was interesting to just take a photo of the sun without any filters.  Normally, this is quite dangerous, but these short time exposures haven’t seem to have caused any damage, and you can see some interesting diffraction spikes.  Normally when the sun is not in eclipse conditions, the IPhone image would have just been a big circular blur of bright light.  But during partial eclipse conditions we see some interesting effects.
Diffraction spikes show up in this iPhone image during the eclipse (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Diffraction spikes show up in this iPhone image during the eclipse (Source: Palmia Observatory)



Finally, totality arrived and as the last bit of the sun is occluded by the moon and the light shines through the moon’s mountains you can sometimes see the diamond ring effect.  Hooray, I finally got the diamond ring.  I tried to do this during the 2017 total eclipse, but missed it.  This time I was lucky.
Finally, the diamond ring effect during the 2019 eclipse, with 200mm lens (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Finally, the diamond ring effect during the 2019 eclipse, with 200mm lens (Source: Palmia Observatory)





Totality!  The bite out of the moon continues until the moon totally obscures the sun.
Totality as seen from La Higuera, Chile with 200mm lens during the 2019 eclipse (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Totality as seen from La Higuera, Chile with 200mm lens during the 2019 eclipse (Source: Palmia Observatory)




This image is longer exposure to bring out more details of the Corona.  There is additional processing and analysis to do on these image but that will have to wait until we have access to a computer.  For instance, I want to see if there are any stars visible in the images taken during totality.  Was the exposure set long enough to capture stars?
Longer exposure showing more corona in La Higuera, Chile with 200mm lens during the 2019 eclipse (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Longer exposure showing more corona in La Higuera, Chile with 200mm lens during the 2019 eclipse (Source: Palmia Observatory)




There is much to do in the few minutes of totality, but I did remember to capture an iPhone image of the same location that was taken earlier.  This way you compare how the details of objects nearby, in totality, compares with objects further away.  So, in the distance it sort of looks like dawn or dusk.

Comparison image showing local darkness during the eclipse at our viewing site (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Comparison image showing local darkness during the eclipse at our viewing site (Source: Palmia Observatory)




Now remember several posts back I found that it was easy for my clumsy fingers, in the heat of the moment, to destroy a Mylar solar filter and that I elected to buy glass solar filter spares?  Well, I did that exact thing in Chile, just after totality when I went to screw the filter back in place.  Darn!  Well, luckily I had brought a spare, but I had to move the camera away from the sun until I found the spare.
Oops, don't put your finger through the mylar solar filter while putting it back on (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Oops, don't put your finger through the mylar solar filter while putting it back on (Source: Palmia Observatory)



Ok, I found the spare and took some images of the sun until the eclipse was over the sun slid down below the mountains at sunset.  But, let’s move the story along and talk about our adventure now trying to get out of this remote viewing spot.  The line up of cars exiting the viewing area stretched for miles on the single road.  Here is an iPhone photo giving some idea of the line of red taillights.  It was a long 5 hour journey back to the hotel even though we only had a distance of 42 miles.

Long 5 hour stream of taillights as we leave the La Higuera, Chile eclipse viewing site (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Long 5 hour stream of taillights as we leave the La Higuera, Chile eclipse viewing site (Source: Palmia Observatory)



Anyway, our Chilean adventure continued as we boarded flights back to Santiago and then northward again to Caluma, where we will start our Atacama Desert adventure.  When we arrived at our hotel in San Pedro de Atacama, after about an hour drive from the airport, through the desert, we had a chance to do some star gazing.  I didn’t have time to attach the red dot finder, and barely had time to set up the camera tripod, but did get several images of the Milky Way, as seen from the Southern Hemisphere.  Pretty neat!  This image is a 30 second exposure on the lightweight Canon M100 mirrorless camera with 15mm focal length telephoto lens.  The images are Wi-Fi transferred JPEG images without any additional processing.
Milky Way image taken from the Atacama Desert, 30 seconds, 200mm (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Beautiful southern skies Milky Way as seen from the Atacama Desert, Chile (Source: Palmia Observatory)



There are other images but note enough time to review them and post it here.  But one image of the Milky Way shows some particularly dark patches.  These regions are particularly dusty areas.  More about that later.
Milky Way, with dark patches, as seen from Atacama Desert, 200mm, 30 seconds (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Another 25 second exposure of southern skies Milky Way as seen from the Atacama Desert, Chile (Source: Palmia Observatory)



Until next time,
Resident Astronomer George



If you like things astronomical or Cosmological, then look at other posts at: www.palmiaobservatory.com






No comments:

Post a Comment