A couple months ago I was welcomed by NASA to tour their facilities on Redstone Arsenal including standing atop a launch platform with historical significance. It was breathtaking from start to finish as I heard the passion in every presentation. There is so much more beyond the four walls we wake up and go to sleep within on a daily basis. As is customary at media events, they handed out swag but this time it was different. The bag emblazoned with the NASA logo wasn’t filled with trinkets and product samples, it was activity kit to use during the upcoming solar eclipse.
It’s been a long while since I was engulfed in the excitement of an eclipse, but nothing like has been happening in recent months. When I was in grade school, I remember the science projects revolved around some type of solar eclipse related activity. Some classes were using pinhole boards to create something downward (akin to an old camera). Others used some type of glasses or other method to be able to look upward. I don’t recall much about it except how cool it was to go out to the playground DURING class to experience it. It was amazing that our teachers were able to come up with so many activities way back then!
With the advancements in technology and media combined with the incredible access to information, this year’s eclipse will be unlike any other. For the first time in 100 years, the viewing path of the full eclipse goes from coast to coast and NASA has created a website that incorporates all the information you might need. Use your iPhone to access all the information from the NASA app! You can also locate a NASA Official event, one at a local library or other location or find tips on how to host your own. They also have a variety of downloadable content and activities including party invitations!
Our schedule has prevented us from traveling to a location with totality but we’ll still experience about 92% eclipse. That’s more than enough to grasp the magnitude of the event. Regardless of the eclipse percentage you’ll be viewing, if you plan to look directly at the sun, you’ll need to make sure you have the proper eye protection. Sunglasses will NOT protect your eyes! You need to ensure you have ISO 12312-2 Glasses or #14 welding glasses. You can also use a pinhole card to project the sun’s image on a flat surface.
But let’s be honest and admit what we really want… to capture and share the moment as we do everything else. Some will focus on snapping the perfect image while others hope for ideal video to relive the moment later. You don’t need a fancy scientific camera to record it; you can use your iPhone 7 or Samsung Galaxy S8 to document the eclipse! Just the other day we were discussing how the quality of images on my iPhone from U.S. Cellular are leaps and bounds better than the point and shoot camera we own. We’ve put together a few tips for you to prepare for the big day!
- Practice makes perfect! Download a couple different apps such as Camera+ or NightCap Camera for iPhone and iPad and practice using them on days prior to the eclipse. Experiment with the camera settings and decide if you prefer the iPhone’s built-in camera app or think one of the apps will provide a better result.
- NEVER use a flash. While a flash might impact your image, that’s not the main reason to steer clear of it. Viewers’ eyes have gradually adjusted to the changes in light that occur as the eclipse takes place. If someone’s camera flash goes off, it ruins the dark adaptation of the eyes and could cause someone to miss out on witnessing it as their eyes try to readjust.
- Your camera knows best. Zoom is not your friend in situations like this. If you manually zoom your camera, the image will be enlarged but pixelated. Allow your camera to pick up the detail on its own… you can always use software after the fact to zoom and crop the image.
- Check your service. If you’ll be in a remote area, don’t assume you’ll have service! We’ve found that U.S. Cellular works great in rural areas around us.
- If you decide to use a video drone to document the shadowing caused by the event, be mindful of other viewers and keep the drone out of their line of sight. Drones aren’t great for capturing the eclipse itself so plan accordingly if you’ll be using a drone as part of your eclipse digital scrapbooking plans.
Last but not least… Live the moment. Share when it’s done. The eclipse doesn’t happen that often and most people will be offline enjoying the event. Don’t feel the need to rush and be the first to post. As soon as it’s over, you can use your reliable cellular coverage to post to your heart’s desire.
Are you watching the eclipse from home or heading somewhere to be engulfed in it?