Greetings From the Path of Totality

If you were lucky enough to travel to the path of totality on Monday, August 21st, you know firsthand how incredible it is to suddenly experience twilight in the middle of the day. The sun transforms into a hole in the sky, casting eerie shades of purple and a 360º sunset on the clouds. Just minutes later, the sun rises over the moon, creating a diamond ring effect. Witnessing this astronomical spectacle in person can’t compare to the photos and descriptions, but the images that I captured in Kearney, Nebraska are truly remarkable! Fewer than 1 in 1,000 people ever have the chance to see the Sun’s atmosphere in their lifetime, and I am extremely grateful to be one of them!

My camera setup. Panasonic GH3 with Canon adapter and 55-250mm Canon lens. I made my own solar filter with film purchased from Spectrum Telescope. I forgot my tripod, so I had to use my gorilla pod.

Composite image from my time-lapse! Each snapshot is about 3 minutes apart.

Composite image of totality! The solar filter was removed during totality and then reapplied for the final phase.

“God’s diamond ring”

The solar corona, consisting of 2-million-degree plasma.


Each frame was taken 3 seconds apart and play back is 24 frames per second. The solar filter was removed during totality and then reapplied for the final phase.

– Alex Schwartz, Video Production & Mechanical Engineering Intern



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Shooting the Great American Total Solar Eclipse

As predicted by astronomers years in advance, a peculiar cosmic event will occur on the morning of August 21st. Passing directly in front of the sun, the moon will cast a shadow racing across North America at supersonic speeds. From Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina, the 70 mile wide shadow will darken everything in its path. Outside the path of totality, all of North America will still be able to observe a partial solar eclipse!


If you can manage it, making your way into the path of totality will be an amazing experience. A little preparation goes a long way! The talented developers at Vox have created this interactive map to illustrate the magnitude of the eclipse from your location. It will inform you of the shortest distance to the path of totality!

If you’d like to capture an image of the solar corona like the one below from the National Parks Service, you must be in the path of totality. We would recommend following this shooting guide from the American Astronomical Society. Some general tips include: using a telephoto lens, setting focus manually, and capturing with optimal exposure settings. This exposure calculator by Xavier M. Jubier is a good place to start. Solar filters should be used for partial-eclipse stages, and the sun offers nearly 12 hours a day for you to practice finding good camera settings! This image is a composite of several exposures and involves hours of post-processing on a computer.

Important: If you are observing the sun on ANY day, practice safety protection by wearing a pair of ISO 12312-2 compliant glasses. Viewing the sun with non-ISO compliant glasses can cause significant eye-damage.

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