Eclipse Mosaic - Alan Pickup

A series of pictures capturing the entire eclipse, as seen from Edinburgh on the 20th of May 2015. (Photo: Alan Pickup)

I followed the event from my east-facing back garden in Fairmilehead, Edinburgh and set up well before first contact under a largely clear sky.  I used a tripod mounted Canon EOS 450D camera with a Tamron 70-300mm lens shooting through a Baader AstroSolar safety film, and the camera’s “live mode” for focus.

By the time of first contact, the Sun was obscured behind a bank of cloud in the east, one of the few clouds in the sky at the time. However, this fell slowly down as the Sun climbed slowly higher and I obtained my first image of the eclipse in progress at 08:36 UTC, about 6 minutes after first contact. I then obtained a series of another 75 images until just after last contact.

It was not all plain sailing, though as the cloud was beginning to be obtrusive again by maximum eclipse. In trying to continue the sequence through that phase, in the face of intermittent cloud and with no time to reconfirm the focus, I increased the exposure time from the 1/2000 second I used for most of the exposures. Somehow in the procedure (panic!) I must have slightly lost focus, so my mid-eclipse shots and those over the following eight minutes are not my sharpest. The cloud was particularly obtrusive during the forty minutes following mid-eclipse, but cleared again for the final stages.

I put together a mosaic of some of my images for my, and the Society’s, Flickr pages. Most of them show the small sunspot (Group 2303) near the 10 o’clock position on the disk, at least when it wasn’t hidden by the Moon. Stretching some of the image data in Photoshop also reveal a trace of a small short-lived spot (Group 2304) near the 2 o’clock position.

This was the deepest partial solar eclipse I have seen and the strange quality of the light near mid-eclipse reminded me strongly of the two total eclipses I have seen under perfect skies – those of 1999 which I observed from Bulgaria and of 2006 from the Libyan desert. I’m prepared to believe that this has something to do with the “unnatural” dimming of the Sun’s light but without the colour changes associated with the Sun being near the horizon.

Alan Pickup

This is one of a series of personal accounts recorded by our members of their experience viewing the partial solar eclipse on the 20th of March 2015.