On 20 March took place one of the most important astronomical events of the year: a total solar eclipse.
Although it was only visible as such from a small strip of our planet (Faroe Islands and Svalbard stood at the optimum point), from Spain it was visible with concealment of between 45% (Las Palmas) and 74% (Pontevedra) depending on the latitude.
The weather was really bad, and the opportunity to enjoy this celestial spectacle seemed totally frustrated when from the previous night, all forecasters claimed thick clouds all over the peninsula.
However, a solar eclipse is a rare event to be seen (unlike lunar eclipses), and the next is scheduled for 2026 (which, who knows, it might also have bad weather and visibility, who knows) so I decided to at least try it.
The location was chosen without any regard to the clouds (as they were expected to cover the sky all over), but the fact of having a distinctive landscape on which it was posible to capture different phases of the eclipse (at least, this was the idea). However, to reach the location, although a priori the sky seemed quite uncovered it finally went covered.
There I met with Francesc Muntada and Oriol Mas, who had previously et at this place, and together we decided to escape from the clouds and continue westward road, looking for any possible cloudless area… And we found it! Just when the eclipse was starting, alongside a road in front of some ugly antennas and with no possible role of nature so I stopped to use the landscape as one element more and I just catched the eclipse phases for making a collage where they all are shown in a single image.
I’m not sure if the image is impressive and certainly there will be some more original and creative tan this one, but the truth is that the experience was amazing… Especially when maximum occultation, when the cloud covered the Sun with sufficient thickness that allowed us to see, directly and without intermediaries: just us, the moon and sun. A gift.
We have to remember that a solar eclipse is a phenomenon that occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth. The proximity of the moon and its relatively small size means that, from a small point of our planet, the moon hides the sun and becomes dark.
Different cultures have tried to explain these phenomena in antiquity, all mystically associated with bad omens or fights between ancestral gods, and it is not difficult to understand such fears as during a solar eclipse day becomes night, temperatures get down and the animals sleep as if it was really night.
To photograph a solar eclipse, it is necessary a good estimate of the area of the sky that will be covered by the sun. This is possible to see with programs like Stellarium and Photographers Ephemeris, or consulting astronomy pages and blogs.
It is also necessary to have the right equipment: The high speed necessary to capture the sun makes the tripod not extremely necessary, but it is highly recommended, especially if it is about composing the landscape or track the phases of the eclipse. It is also need a good telephoto lens to capture the sun as large as possible (it’s also good if you have a telescope adapter to the camera). But the most important would be to use a sun filter. You can buy it in astronomy and optical stores. It looks like foil and it has to be placed in front of the lens. It is very important to remember that we should never look directly at the Sun or that could seriously damage our eyes. Neither sunglasses nor radiography are useful, but with this filter it’s possible to observe the phenomenon through the viewfinder or LCD screen. Keep in mind that the CCD sensor is sensitive to light and so taking photographs with no filter, it can also get damaged.
How about you? Did you photograph the eclipse? Did you enjoy it?
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