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On November 3, 2013, there was a rare hybrid annular/total solar eclipse of the Sun. Unfortunately, the only places one could see totality was either in the Atlantic Ocean or in central Africa. For the East Coast of the United States, we were treated to a partial eclipse in progress as the Sun rose. Wanting as flat a horizon as I could get, I went out to the town of Chesapeake Beach on the Chesapeake Bay to catch sunrise eclipse. I had two cameras with me to shoot two time-lapse sequences of sunrise, a Nikon D7000 with an 18-105mm lens set to 105, and another Nikon D7000 with a 70-400mm lens set to 400. Other settings: ISO 100, f/8-f/11, aperture mode, time-lapse interval set to 5 seconds between exposures for the 400mm lensed camera, 10 seconds for the 105mm lensed camera (was supposed to be 5 also, but I goofed :-) ). Focus was set to manual, otherwise things would have been seriously wonked up (as it turned out, for some reason the 400 lens sequence bounced a few times during the course of the sequence, despite being on the heavier tripod and locked down pretty solidly).
As you watch the sunrise eclipse, notice that the silhouette of the Moon slowly shrinks as the Sun gets higher in the sky (more noticeable in the 400mm sequence). I had hoped to have gotten the entire length of the eclipse shot, but as I was driving out, a cloud deck formed and started spreading eastward. I was happy just to get the 15 minutes of eclipse that I could before the Sun went behind the clouds (the entire eclipse would otherwise have lasted 41 minutes for my area).
This astro-lapse (night sky time-lapse) has been two years in the making. It was shot exclusively out in Joshua Tree National Park on two separate weekend visits to the Park, one in September, one in November (during the 2012 Leonid Meteor Shower). Since that time the images had sat dormant in an archive, waiting for me to get some time to devote to transforming them into this video. That time has finally come.
Due to the lateness in the year I was there, the Milky Way was setting into the light dome of Palm Springs and greater Los Angeles. Consequently, I only got one decent Milky Way sequence in the nights I shot.
At the time I was not traveling with a dolly rail set up, so was limited in the camera movements to using an Astrotrac astrophotography guiding system. However, the Astrotrac would only pan for about 90 minutes before reaching the end of it’s workable motion. Hence why there are a number of ‘still’, tripod-only sequences.
**Geeky Astro Details**
The bright star-like object that appears from behind a sky-silhouetted Joshua Tree at 0:15 is Jupiter. Jupiter also appears at 0:24, 0:38, and rises through the Arch near White Tanks Campground at 0:57.
The shadows that play across the rocks in the Arch sequence are from the moon setting behind the camera.
Venus makes an appearance at 0:50 and rises during the final sequence at 1:38
The star trails at 1:13 were created using StarStax. On the left side of the field of view at 1:19 you’ll note the appearance of a bright shaft of light. That was a minor fireball from the Leonid meteor shower. All the other streaks you see shoot across the field of view are planes.
The final sequence (at 1:28) features a classic instance of Zodiacal Light, the glow you see in the sky as the camera pans from right to left. It was *very* evident with the naked eye. It took me a while to figure out that it wasn’t light pollution from a distant town (of which there are no light domes in that direction from Joshua Tree), but rather an extremely vivid case of Zodiacal Light. (I have only seen it this bright once since during a trip to New Mexico in 2013)
The lights on the hill from 0:33 to 0:38 are of some night hikers a few miles away from where I was shooting.
**Geeky Tech Details**
Cameras used: Nikon D7000
Exposure times: ranged from 15-25 seconds
Lens f-stop settings: ranged from f/2.8 (with the 14mm Rokinon) to f/3.5 (for the 18-105mm Nikon kit lens, in 18mm mode)
Post processing: Lightroom 5
Video creation and rendering: Final Cut Pro X
Hyperlapse motion courtesy of Astrotrac (www.astrotrac.com)
All sequences were shot within Joshua Tree National Park, some in Hidden Valley, some at White Tanks.
Music by Sarah Schachner (www.sarahschachner.com), “Firestorm”
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