Saturday, October 13, 2012

Eclipse 2012 - with a little help...

Astrophotography can be very unforgiving - the slightest mistake or imperfection can make itself very obvious or completely ruin the attempt. An extreme example of this is total eclipse photography. The entire event lasts only a few minutes, the diamond ring part just seconds. You cannot practice beforehand on the real thing. You have to travel thousands of kilometers - with severe weight limitations - and work under unknown field conditions. High resolution closeups come with added requirements for tracking, mechanical stability and optical perfection.

Having just the right kind of equipment helps enormously. I have a good, lightweight telescope (Borg 100ED) and a good, lightweight tracking device (Astrotrac 320TT) . I don't have a suitable camera. Nor do I own a suitable tripod or equatorial wedge. I do own lots of good stuff, but this is very heavy and optimized for deep sky work. The solution, of course, is right at hand: get a little help from your friends!
Anita and Henrik's equipment delivery service!
Minutes after emailing around I had numerous offers for high end DSLR's, graphite tripods and great telephoto lenses. A super stable and ultra compact wedge? No problem! I could arrange for one to borrow with just single phone call.

This is my fifth solar eclipse expedition and I have never had equipment as fine and capable as this time. Neither have my photography ambitions been higher. Here's a list of the final version of the photographic setup I have arrived at:
I had several other setup iterations in the past weeks before arriving at this list. Going through these would not have been possible without extensive help and advice from good friends. Have plenty of them and keep them near!

However, with all this great gear - how to avoid spending the entire eclipse working it all and not having time to experience the eclipse with all senses?? Stay tuned for the next chapter of this blog to find out.

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