This was the perfect time for Michael Watson to present at our monthly meeting. The June meeting of Hamilton RASC was the last one before the summer break – the next meeting will be in September. Between now and then, however, will be one of the great astronomical events of our lifetimes – a solar eclipse, readily accessible to tens of millions of people over thousands of miles covered by a world class network of highways – will be happening.
Michael told us about how much anticipation there has been for this eclipse – in fact, they were talking about it over 40 years ago. With the eclipse being so close to home, many of us will be travelling to various corners of the United States to witness it. Michael also pointed out that those who decide to stay home won’t be left out of the action – there will be a marvelous partial eclipse covering 72% of the Sun right here at home.
Michael started off with an overview of what an eclipse is, and the different types that there are. He also suggested many excellent online and book resources for those interested in this eclipse. Some of the online resources mentioned included:
Next up were a number of great tips on observing this eclipse. First, and foremost, was related to the anticipated weather conditions and what to expect depending on where you go. Watch the weather forecasts and even leverage the information available from the Clear Sky Chart website to get an idea of what conditions will be like in advance of eclipse day, and be ready to hop on the Interstate highways to an alternate location.
In addition to solar viewing glasses, Michael also recommended bring binoculars and a pillow; with the eclipse so high up in the sky it makes sense to find a comfortable viewing position! For those planning to photograph the eclipse, Michael emphasized being prepared with your equipment, including a tripod, solar filters and a properly aligned scope where the assembly is on the correct side of the mount.
Michael reviewed what to expect in the way of image sizes based on the lens being used, and also pointed out some of the nearby features that can be included in the photograph, including Regulus, just over a degree away from the Sun! Camera settings were also covered, with some great tips about the best f-stop to use and how much exposure time is needed to catch various features of the eclipse.
The talk was rounded up with some great tips that are obvious, but easily forgotten on eclipse day. It was a great list that was valuable to see from an experienced eclipse chaser. The most important tip of all (besides fresh batteries) was to practice in advance, so you can get those 2 or 3 great shots, and still have time to enjoy the beauty of the eclipse.
Following Michael’s talk, Gary announced that June 17 will be “Lumberjack Day” at the observatory. All hands and equipment that can make it up to the observatory that day are welcome, as we will be doing some tree maintenance to enhance our view of the sky from the observatory. An email to all members will follow shortly, but any and all help will be greatly appreciated.
The last topic of the meeting was the Canada wide Star Party, to be held July 29. Hamilton RASC will be participating by hosting an event at Westfield Heritage Village. Volunteers to come out and help are needed. More information will be made available as the date approaches.
Gary wished everybody a great summer and adjourned the meeting.