Total Solar Eclipse in US 2017

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Partial Solar Eclipse, foto: Niklas Henricson
Partial Solar Eclipse, foto: Niklas Henricson

So begin planning 2017 for one of the rarest life events witnessing a total solar eclipse. Solar eclipses aren’t that rare but are truly hard to access all the times. Consider for a moment that 3 of 4 parts on the earth’s surface is covered by water, leaving only 1/4 for us to wander about.

Now consider also that not every surface on land is accessible. Either for geopolitical reasons (raging wars, corrupted regimes, etc.), but also for natural reasons such as thick impenetrable forests, high rocky mountains, wildlife, deserts, and so forth.

Considering even that not all human beings are able to travel or can afford long trips but also add on top of that the event might occur on a weird corner of a country where flight prices would cost your entire annual income (I have friends who actually took a military plane down to south pole and landed on ice for some years ago).

On top of that we need to consider the weather with unpredictable forecasts and clouds.

So summing all that up, it truly makes solar eclipses one of its kind and a life event for many of us!

The total solar eclipse will happen in August 21st of 2017. The time-and-date and the national eclipse websites include many details (see at the bottom of this blog post for links), offering also a list of places on where to actually observe the totality of the eclipse. Since this event will happen from west to east, I believe that many fellow Americans and also Europeans who are able to travel, experience this!

As the time comes closer, I’m going to provide much more detailed information, distinguish partial with total solar eclipses and their differences, write about safety precautions on how to safely observe and also talk more about the historical importance of solar eclipses throughout the human history.

  • The National Eclipse website (A lot of information and a web shop for eclipse glasses)
  • For more information click right here.
  • NASA page for solar eclipse click here.
  • Interactive Google Map with lots of information by Xavier M. Jubier here.

Niklas Henricson

Supermoon 2016

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So it was time to head out of the apartment and head for my spot to take a nice shot of the supermoon. I sneaked out as quietly as I could and try to avoid waking up my wife and our baby sleeping still heavily. I left around 4:30 AM and started driving towards the TRACON area (TRACON is responsible for air traffic control for the whole West of US). Once I arrived I turned in their parking lot, but a security guard approached me letting me know I wasn’t allowed to park there but they were kind enough to advice me to park across the street. I thanked them and also asked them if they knew about the supermoon showing up this morning and their response was “Yeah! We’ve been watching it all night”. I left shortly after our short conversation looking at the security guards gazing high up in the night sky all in awe about the brightens of this beautiful full moon.

I couldn’t center the statue I had in mind (a statue of army pilots pointing towards the sky. I thought it would have been awesome to put the moon at their finger tips but that plan and angle didn’t work all too well because of the tree line in the way) and so I changed quickly plans and had the Californian state flag and US flag poles centered in the middle. Fortunately from that angle the trees weren’t in my way.

And here we go, supermoon in all its glory

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For you who have missed this event, there’s one more chance the 13th of December. I’ll be back about it and might make a new try again for my perfect shot.

Preparing for supermoon 2016

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So it’s time in a few hours to witness the super moon from the Californian morning sky. I found a nice monument that will be integrated into the same shot and hopefully everything will go as planned. Tonight the moon looked so beautiful as always.

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Supermoon, Canon EOS 50D, ISO 500, 7500K, shutter 1/2500

Californian Twilight Sky

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One of the most amazing things about California, are the infamous sunsets. The stratocumulus clouds are shattered across the horizon but still merged reminding us the potential rainfall on its way, as the twilight spreads in the upper atmosphere dominating the evening sky with red, orange, pink and yellow palette of colors. A magnificent view to say the least!

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As I am gazing at the evening and night skies I can’t wait for my equipment to be transferred to the states from Sweden very soon. The need to be out in the nature and taking photos at the deep sky grows bigger for every day.

Niklas Henricson

14th of November – Super Moon

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The 14th of November this year the moon’s perigee position and phase (full moon) will offer all the observers a spectacular show. It will appear the biggest in 70 years. So to all my California friends, go up this early morning around 5 AM and take photos. I will try and see if I can find a nice recognizable monument in Sacramento (maybe the tower bridge).
The moon will be already descending towards the West and its declination or angle close to the horizon will cause the moon to appear larger than its actual size. It is actually worthy witnessing this beautiful event, as it will not happen again for another 70 years. There is however one more chance during next full moon in December (12/13/2016) if you happen to miss it. In December you’ll have to look out even for the Geminids Meteor showers, however do not make many hopes as the full moon brightness will make it harder discovering them.

In order to take a nice photo of this event you’ll need to stand far away from an object/monument or building of your choice and use a telescope or a telephoto lens that will magnify enough the size of the moon while keeping your object in focus.

While moving away from that object will reduce its size due to the distance from it, use your telephoto lens to magnify it. That is how you accomplish these images like in the example below (a large moon and a recognizable building/object next or right in front of it).

Unfortunately cell phone cameras will not be able to take any good images as these get worse by using zooming/image enlargement and also over exposed (bright sphere with unrecognizable features). Unless of course you are able to control shutter speeds and ISO values (such as in some Microsoft/Windows phones). For this image you’ll need a tripod and a DSRL/SRL camera with telescope lens to accommodate your needs properly.

Links:

Click on the mosaic below for larger images:

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Moon’s position in Sacramento, CA area the early morning of 11/14/2016
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Standing too close to the building will allow you large objects on the ground and the moon to appear tiny
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Image from National Geographic used as an example. By positioning yourself far away with a telescope or telephoto lens it’ll make objects and the moon larger put together side by side

 

Moon in conjunction with Jupiter

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So I’m soon done with the visa process while enjoying a wonderful summer in Sacramento, CA with Melissa, little Vanita and waiting soon for our daughter to be born. Right now life is good. We’re starting anew, with exciting opportunities in all areas of life.

While Melissa was enjoying a movie at the theater with her friends, I managed to assemble together my camera and lenses to go out and shoot a few pictures on the moon. I really love the crescent moon as the shadows illuminate the crates in higher contrast then a full moon does.

Here are the results

Niklas Henricson

Mercury’s Greatest Transit

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Mercury-Transit

I’m soon about to move in with Melissa and start our lives together in Sacramento, CA. On my last visit to the states, I left all of my DSLR cameras at her place. I realized since I don’t have any cameras left in Sweden, I had to use my Celestron NexImage webcamera, but of course it’s not compatible with Windows 10! After spending almost an entire morning trying to install Windows XP Home edition through Hyper V Manager and also trying to install all the old Windows XP drivers from the Celestron’s CD I finally succeeded to get the webcamera functioning.

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My idea was to broadcast live stream and share that with others, but I found myself abandoning that idea quite soon due to connectivity issues and also due to the camera not being setup properly.

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To my disappointment, I was running out of time and had to cancel my effort in trying to bring the webcam alive. The event would start at 1:15 PM local hour so instead I captured the event through the afocal-projection method by pointing my Windows cell phone (a Nokia Lumia 1020) against the ocular and to my surprise the phone captured a semi-good photo and a video of the event!

The next visible Mercury transit will occur in 2019 but will not be as spectacular as this one (so called a great transit). The next great transit will be again the 9th of Noveber in 2052. By the time I’ll be 73 years old and hopefully will be able to see it again!
(See facts about Mercury’s periodic transits). Some more facts in Swedish here

Another interesting fact about Mercury as a planet is its orbit around our sun. Not before Einstein came around with his general theory of relativity, could we explain the eccentricity of Mercury’s orbit due to the large bending of space-time fabric around the planet. Before that, Newtonian physics could explain halfway all the visible observations, which annoyed the scientists. Once again, Einstein could nail the answers to this odd behavior of the planet.

Here’s a Youtube video of the event as well, expand the video to full screen in order to see the round dot on the right side of the solar disc. Mercury is a tiny planet and covers a mere 1/158 of the sun’s diameter. Enjoy watching!