The Moon in Motion – Great American Eclipse from Idaho and the Tetons

I hope you enjoy this view of the ‘Great American Eclipse’, captured in Idaho and the Tetons on 21st August 2017. Best viewed with the lights down and the music up.

It has taken me all of the nearly two years since the eclipse to develop and apply the specialised eclipse image processing and video editing skills required to create this.

The video features footage from 7 out of 12 cameras I had running on the day. Six were onsite at South Menan Butte, Idaho. The other two cameras were at remote locations established in the days leading up to the eclipse: Table Mountain, Wyoming looking over the Tetons and another in the foothils of the Beaverhead Mountains (south of Blue Dome) looking over the Snake River Plains of Idaho.

More info:

Music by my talented friend, cellist and composer Kristin Rule:


Some things to note in the video:

Partial Eclipse: The Moon moves across active sunspot groups which were unexpected for this eclipse nearing solar minimum.

Approaching Shadow from South Menan Butte: The thin dark band of the approaching shadow of the Moon gives an unusual insight into the thickness of the atmosphere that we see from side on, above a distant horizon.

Snake River Plain, Idaho: Note the shadow moving rapidly across the hazy cloud band, with Venus visible high in the sky above the Sun, and soft yellow twilight glow around the horizon.

On Location: My Takahashi FS-102 telescope capturing the eclipse. The red lights on the mount and the camera indicate how dark it gets during totality. There’s a thermometer hanging on the telescope which I was using to guide adjusting the focus as the temperature dropped during the eclipse. You can also see the filter on the telescope removed as totality starts.

Widefied Corona: The diamond ring at second contact (start of the total eclipse) gives way to a wide view of coronal streamers of the Sun’s atmosphere. The bright star Regulus appears in the frame also. Captured primarily with a Borg 77EDII telescope and Canon 5D Mark IV camera (automated with Eclipse Orchestrator) and a Pentax 300mm ED IF lens and Canon 6D.

Eclipse over the Tetons: Note the shadow racing away across the landscape at left of the Teton’s Range.

I hiked the 11,100ft (3,387m) summit of Table Mountain three days before the eclipse to plant an automated camera hidden down the east ridge, with the highly uncertain hope of capturing footage on eclipse day. The Canon 5D Mark IV reliably churned away at more than three full size RAW files per second for six minutes covering totality and a few minutes either side. But on the hike back up on the day after the eclipse, I learned from other hikers that my camera had fallen over (in the wind) and therefore that the whole affair had likely been in vain. Read more about how lucky I am to have captured this unique sequence:

Corona Close-Up: Baily’s Beads, as the edge of the Sun breaks up into beads through hills and mountains on the rough edge of the Moon give way to a high resolution view of the solar corona with coronal loops, helmet streamers and polar plumes. If you watch carefully during totality you can see the motion of the Moon from right to left against the corona, particularly so as it reveals the giant red prominence on the right side, until the Sun reappears from behind the Moon, bringing an end to an eclipse that I had been anticipating, planning and rehearsing for for over three years prior.

All of the visuals were captured on camera on the day. While there is some significant HDR processing and multi-camera compositing there are no CGI or Photoshop creations.

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