The time is almost upon us when roughly 174,250 square miles of land in the United States will fall dark during daylight hours and hordes of Astronomers, Astronomy Enthusiasts, photographers, videographers and the just plain curious and enthralled masses will be looking to the sky to see one of the most amazing celestial events they will ever see, and arguably one of very few celestial events visible to humanity with the naked eye (more on this later).
To be sure, 174,250 square miles seems like a lot of space, but nature and the physics of light will leave the other 2,925,750 Square Miles of the United States and all of it's residents seeing only a partial coverage of the beautiful ball of fire that makes life here possible! That seems unfair!! Well Tough Crap...Life and nature are unfair! SO...If you are one of the above mentioned groups of people, and you aren't in this magic stretch of Urban and Rural America being shown this amazing scene...get rolling...your time is running out to get to the places it will be the most amazing.
If you can't make a trip this year, fret not, the US is due for another one likely in your lifetime in 2024, but that still should not stop you from enjoying this amazing spectacle. MOST of the areas in the U.S. not in the Umbra (path of totality) will still see at least 70% coverage of the sun by the moon! Still pretty damned amazing to see, and still a pretty rare site! So even if you aren't in that magic path...get out there and watch...it's a moving experience that will remind us just how small we are in the universe and just how big the sun actually is...as it casts the shadow of a DAMN big rock on a huge path of ground!!!!
Now, despite the fact, as I mentioned above, that it's one of the few celestial events we as humans can see with the naked eye, DO NOT WATCH IT WITH NAKED EYES!!!! That term, in this context refers to a lack of need for magnification devices such as telescopes, a device needed to witness nearly every other celestial event in the universe...and if others present themselves in that sphere of human vision, it's probably going to be an issue! Lets face it, a Supernova close enough to see unaided with more clarity than a dot in the sky...yeah...that's our doom!
Be sure to use CORRECT eye and equipment protection!! You may be wearing solar safe glasses while looking through that 600mm lens on your nice expensive DSLR, but if your lens isnt wearing that same protection, you can kiss that imaging sensor good-bye and likely your eye looking in the view finder too...those glasses you're wearing...oh yeah...they are designed for normal vision...MAGNIFYING the intensity of the sun will pretty much nullify them, and your retina!!!! You need to protect your eyes AND your equipment!
Now, if you're like me and planning on a nice morning of shooting one of natures Geometric movement rarities for the amazing experience and the amazing shots, lets talk about Gear. Are you one of those lucky photographers with enough money to have one of those amazing lenses that's so damn big it requires a special little slot in back for your filters? Guess what...DON'T put a solar filter there!! A solar filter needs mounted at the front of your lens, before any potential magnification or refraction of light happens. Mounting it further back in the lens structure will likely cause it to burn, melt or just fail, still damaging your sensor and your eye looking through the view finder. If you didn't spend the money for a nice screw on filter, remember that you need to take great care to insure there is no way for the filter film you are using to come out during use, as again, that would be bad for you and the camera's sensor!!!
If you haven't already secured these now much coveted filters, I have to say that my research shows, you are pretty much screwed! The few that are still available are now 1000% their normal cost and the postal and parcel systems are not likely to get them to you on time anyways, so you'll be stuck watching it on NASA TV or waiting for the photos of others, but DO NOT take this opportunity to be innovative and try to create your own by stacking filters, wearing sunglasses or stacking welding glass...it's not safe, its prone to failure and it won't give you the protection you require anyway!
- Welders Glass #14 (stacking a #10 and #4 are not the same as #14...none of the combos of lower levels will properly protect you)
- 100000ND Neutral Density Filters
- sunglasses with lenses painted with 50 coats of black spray paint (you wont see the eclipse, but it is 100% effective at protection)
If you didn't manage to plan ahead, sorry, but DO NOT chance your vision or your equipment on internet DIYs and just plain bad ideas!
Looking forward to seeing all of the amazing images, videos and time-lapses in the next few months...But BE CAREFUL...you'll not want to miss everything else in your life by cooking your retinas!!!
Capture Moments...Capture Life...CAPTURE CHAOS!!!