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2024 Solar Eclipse

I was fortunate enough to be able to make it to the April 8, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse, with cooperative weather. Below are images and video I took of the event, which I would like to share with you. I was located on Lake Champlain, just west of the town of St. Albans, Vermont, at a State parking area for boat trailers (across from a boating launch ramp). There were only a handful of boats on the Lake at this time of year, so the place was nearly empty. The lot filled up with eclipse enthusiasts. The sign said "no loitering" — we were joking around that if they tried to clear us out, we would claim that we were doing real science here.

This was my first total solar eclipse. Over my life, I’ve seen maybe a half dozen or so partial solar eclipses, including the 1994 annular eclipse in the nearby Adirondacks. I missed the 2017 eclipse and figured this might be the last chance I get to see one.

Copyright notice

All material on this page, including photos/images and video, are created, owned, and copyrighted © 2024 by me (the author), Phil M Perry. None of this material may be reproduced, broadcast, streamed, or otherwise redistributed without my written permission. If you would like to license any of this material, feel free to contact me. I will not be charging a fee for non-commercial use, but would appreciate receiving credit for my work.

Equipment used

Wide-angle scenic shots were taken with a Nikon D3500 DSLR camera. This produced 6000x4000 pixel images, which were scaled down for Web use. Closeups and video of the event were taken with a ZWO Seestar S50 astrocamera (smart telescope) with included solar filter. The “Seestar” at the bottom of each frame gives my home lat/long… I didn't have phone service on the tablet, so the address should be 44.8N,73.2W. Still-frames were grabbed using Microsoft Media Player and all images were edited (cropped, resampled for Web use) with the GIMP image processing system. I'm still getting used to the Seestar; it wasn't quite leveled enough to avoid some drift in the position of the Sun during filming.

And here's the show!

Post Contact 1 through Contact 2

There are three small sunspots visible on the disc of the Sun as the Moon takes a big bite out of it. A teenager nearby remarked that it looked like a Pacman (how does someone that young remember a video game from the 80's?). Others saw the Sun frowning.

early partial phase 1
early partial phase 2
early partial phase 3
early partial phase 4

Notice that the Seestar's exposure control is allowing the solar photosphere to become brighter as more of the solar disc is covered. Unfortunately, I did not have an extra eclipse to practice on before this event, so I ended up using the automated controls. Note that the image file names appear to be Unix epoch timestamps in milliseconds.

early partial phase 5
early partial phase 6
early partial phase 7
early partial phase 8
early partial phase 9

The eclipse here was seen through high, thin cirrus clouds. This prevented seeing more than one or two bright stars, but in exchange gave a beautiful halo around the Sun. The ice crystals in the clouds act as prisms, like the raindrops creating a rainbow.

early partial phase, cirrus halo

3:34 of Totality!

The closeups here are frame grabs from the video.

The video gets shaky in a few spots as I bump the telescope and try removing and reinstalling the solar filter (sorry!).

contact 2

A frame grab showing totality:

early totality
wide-angle totality with Venus

The wide-angle shot is using the DSLR's automatic exposure control, so it came out overexposed. I was unable to process it to bring out the black disc of the Moon, but you can see that with Totality 1 and 2 frame grabs. If you squint just right, you may see that the solar disc is darker than the corona. I believe that is the planet Venus just at the tree line.

wide-angle edited for naked eye view

The above image edited to look more like the naked eye view. I tried adding the solar prominence (1 pixel in size) but it doesn't seem to show up.

scene on the ground, sunlight in distance

Note a bunch of people dancing in the bed of a pickup truck, silhouetted against the bright distant sky. The still-snowcapped Green and Adirondack Mountains were in bright sunlight while we were in a deep twilight. A streetlight has come on, and I think the camera's flash went off at this point. That might be Sirius near the center of the picture.

totality again

Just before Contact 3, you can almost make out the prominence at 0630.

Just as Contact 3 is reached and the solar filter is reinstalled, you may be able to see a solar prominence at about the 6:30 position. It was distinctly visible to the naked eye -- very red, and many people commented on seeing it. It is not very visible here, nor very red, but you can just see it briefly. Here are a couple of frame grabs that show the prominence. I'm not sure if the two bight spots on the right side of the Moon are early stages of Baily's Beads, or small prominences. The more I look at it, the more the one at about the 0400 position looks like it too may be a prominence.

pre-contact 3 prominence 1

Now there's a Diamond Ring I can't afford!

pre-contact 3 prominence 2

Contact 3 and later

Mr. Sun is now sporting a big grin and smile as the Moon slowly uncovers it.

contact 3, end of totality
late partial phase 1
late partial phase 2
late partial phase 3
late partial phase 4
late partial phase 5
late partial phase 6

Other impressions

I was looking and listening for other phenomena during the eclipse. The most noticeable thing was that it got distinctly cooler as the Sun was obscured, dropping from the low 60s (F), 18 C, to maybe 45 F (7 C) during totality. I looked for shadow bands (caustics) on the pavement, but didn't see anything. There were no leaves on the trees, so I couldn't see the "pinhole" effect leaving crescents on the ground, but branch shadows may have been a little bit sharper on the ground when the Sun was nearly gone. Someone nearby had an 8 foot (250 cm) pinhole telescope which gave a nice image. Birds quieted down a little, and frogs kicked up as it grew dark. Totality was like someone hitting the light switch — it got real dark real fast.

wide view with labels

I looked for other stars and planets, but due to the clouds I may have only seen Venus and possibly Sirius. Looking at the totality wide views, Neptune should be at about the heading and 150% of the Sun-Venus distance, but I think it's hidden by the trees (and probably not visible to the camera anyway), if at all visible. Mercury should be just above the Sun, but I'm not sure I see it (again, maybe with a telescope). There is a line of fuzzies below the Sun that may be τ Cet, θ Cet, 20 Cet, ω Psc; but their location is so uncertain that I can't tell. I hope they're not just dust spots on the camera lens! I wonder why these stars would be so out of focus while Venus is fairly sharp. The same goes for possible α Psc and ο Psc to the upper left of the Sun.

Traffic

I think there must have been 2 or 3 out-of-state visitors to Vermont for every state resident, and they were all in the northern third of the state (along with more than a few in-state residents!) for totality. At 1545 they all started leaving at once. It's a lovely place, but the road system wasn't designed for this, and you can imagine the congestion! At least, everyone was in a good mood and was driving in a friendly manner.

Driving up to Vermont, I left home at 0600 and got to Swanton at 1200 and started looking for a place to set up. It took me an hour of passing town and state parks that were already filled to the brim (with neighbors charging $25 to park in their yard) before I found the St. Albans boat ramp. I left at nearly 1600 and it took 5.5 hours of bumper-to-bumper stop-and-go traffic to get into New York state, and another 3.5 hours to get home just before 0100. Still worth it!

 

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