The Sydney Observatory November 2012 total solar eclipse video

December 11, 2012

The total solar eclipse of November 14, 2012 is now almost a month old. But with the next one over Australian soil not until 2023 I’ve posted this short video to make-do until then!

The video runs at 40x real-time for the partial phases (where the Sun appears yellow), then in real time during totality. It begins with the Sun rising out of the  morning cloud. You can see some small black sunspots as the Moon drifts across. During totality several crimson prominences (hydrogen gas ‘fountains’) appear as well as the beautiful corona. I particularly like the way we were lucky enough to capture the amazing silvery-blue colour that was so distinctive of this eclipse, although this fades to pure white as totality progresses. Finally a crimson strip of the Sun’s chromosphere appears and then its all over when a beatuful diamond-ring effect burns out the view.

The video was extracted from footage I recorded while webstreaming the eclipse back to Sydney Observatory.  I was in the small town of Mt Molloy just inland from Pt Douglas, Queensland – far enough inland to avoid the coastal cloud and rain, but still within mobile-3G coverage.

A short technical blurb: I used a 100-mm Sky-Watcher refractor on an HEQ5-Pro mount. An Orion full-aperture solar filter was used during the partial phases. A Sony NEX-VG20 HD video camera was connected, via a Blackmagic Intensity Extreme box, to an iMac running Flash Media Live Encoder software. From FMLE we streamed the video back to Sydney Observatory via Telstra’s 3G network. We also had a McDougall solar autoguider, but due to the poor weather leading up to eclipse day we had no time to calibrate it  – it probably would have prevented the jumpiness you can see in the video.

I’d like to say a special thank-you to Gavin for providing power, and to Chris and Rini for company, & muffins, on the day. Also to my colleagues Dan, Chris, Felix and Geoff for ensuring it all worked out so well.

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