Saturday, May 18, 2024

Amazing Amateur Images of April 8th’s Total Solar Eclipse

AstronomyAmazing Amateur Images of April 8th's Total Solar Eclipse

The last total solar eclipse across the Mexico, the U.S. and Canada for a generation wows observers.

Did you see it? Last week’s total solar eclipse did not disappoint, as viewers from the Pacific coast of Mexico, across the U.S. from Texas to Maine and through the Canadian Maritime provinces were treated to an unforgettable show. The weather threw us all a curve-ball one week out, as favored sites in Texas and Mexico fought to see the event through broken clouds, while areas along the northeastern track from New Hampshire and Maine onward were actually treated to clear skies.

Many eclipse chasers scrambled to reposition themselves at the last minute as totality approached. In northern Maine, it was amusing to see tiny Houlton, Maine become the epicenter of all things eclipse-based.

Tales of a Total Solar Eclipse

We were also treated to some amazing images of the eclipse from Earth and space. NASA also had several efforts underway to chase the eclipse. Even now, we’re still processing the experience. It takes time (and patience!) for astro-photos to make their way through the workflow. Here are some of the best images we’ve seen from the path of totality:

Tony Dunn had an amazing experience, watching the eclipse from Mazatlan, Mexico. “When totality hit, it didn’t look real,” Dunn told Universe Today. “It looked staged, like a movie studio. the lighting is something that can’t be experienced outside a total solar eclipse.”

Totality on April 8th, with prominences. Credit: Tony Dunn.

Dunn also caught an amazing sight, as the shadow of the Moon moved across the low cloud cover:

Black Hole Sun

Peter Forister caught the eclipse from central Indiana. “It was my second totality (after 2017 in South Carolina), so I knew what was coming,” Forister told Universe Today. “But it was still as incredible and beautiful as anything I’ve ever seen in nature. The Sun and Moon seemed huge in my view—a massive black hole (like someone took a hole punch to the sky) surrounded by white and blue flames streaking out. Plus, there was great visibility of the planets and a few stars. The memory has been playing over and over in my head since it happened—and it’s combined with feelings of awe and wonder at how beautiful our Universe and planet really are. The best kind of memory!”

Totality over Texas. Credit: Eliot Herman

Like many observers, Eliot Herman battled to see the eclipse through clouds. “As you know, we had really frustrating clouds,” Herman told Universe Today. “I shot a few photos (in) which you can see the eclipse embedded in the clouds and then uncovered to show the best part. For me it almost seemed like a cosmic mocking, showing me what a great eclipse it was, and lifting the veil only at the end of the eclipse to show me what I missed…”

Totality and solar prominences seen through clouds. Credit: Eliot Herman

Totality Crosses Into Canada

Astrophotographer Andrew Symes also had a memorable view from Cornwall, Ontario. “While I’ve seen many beautiful photos and videos from many sources, they don’t match what those us there in person saw with our eyes,” Symes told Universe Today. “The sky around the Sun was not black but a deep, steely blue. The horizon was lighter–similar to what you’d see during a sunset or sunrise–but still very alien.”

“The eclipsed Sun looked, to me, like an incredibly advanced computer animation from the future! The Sun and corona were very crisp, and the Sun looked much larger in the sky than I’d expected. The eclipsed Sun had almost a three-dimensional quality… almost as if it were a dark, round button-like disk surrounded by a bright halo affixed to a deep blue/grey background. It was as if a ‘worm hole’ or black hole had somehow appeared in front of us. I’m sure my jaw dropped as it was truly a moment of utter amazement. I’m smiling as I type it now… and still awestruck as I recall it in my mind!”

An amazing eclipse.
An amazing eclipse. Credit: Andrew Symes.

Success for the Total Solar Eclipse in Aroostook County Maine

We were met with success (and clear skies) watching the total solar eclipse with family from our hometown of Mapleton, Maine. We were mostly just visually watching this one, though we did manage to nab a brief video of the experience.

What I was unprepared for was the switch from partial phases to totality. It was abrupt as expected, but there almost seemed to be brief but perceptible pause from day to twilight, as the corona seemed to ‘switch on.’ We all agreed later on that the steely blue sky was not quite night… but not quite twilight, either.

Diamond ring
The elusive diamond ring, seen from Wappappello Lake, Missouri on April 8th. Credit: Chris Becke

When’s the next one? I often wonder how many watchers during a given eclipse were ‘bitten by the bug,’ and looking to chase the next one. Spain is set to see an eclipse a year for the next three years, starting in 2026:

Spain in August… be sure to stay cool and bring sunblock. Don’t miss the next total solar eclipse, and be thankful for our privileged vantage point in time and space.

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