Help! I want to record the solar eclipse!

Hey all, how’s everything going? I’m over here working on a bunch of Cuba posts that I intend to finish before the end of July, and after that I’m going on a road trip! I don’t have any detailed plans to share just yet, but I know that I’ll be on the road for about a month driving from Champaign, IL all the way out to the West Coast and ending in San Francisco, CA. Just before the end of my trip, I’ll be stopping to check out the solar eclipse happening on August 21, and I’m hoping to capture a video of it.

That’s where I need your help.

total_solar_eclipse_of_march_9_1997
Solar Eclipse – March 9, 1997

I know absolutely nothing about recording high (or at least decent) quality video of a celestial body as bright and powerful as our sun, and I certainly don’t have the right gear to do it. So I’m turning to you – the film experts of the internet – to help me figure this out. Here’s what I’d like to do:

  • Point a video camera at the sun (duh)
  • Preset everything so that I can focus on the solar eclipse instead of fiddling with a camera
  • Capture the sun, moon, light, and absence of light over time as the eclipse occurs

I know this is not such a trivial thing to do correctly, and I have loads of questions about it. A few:

  • What kind of video camera would I even need to capture the brilliance of the sun?
  • Are solar filters appropriate here? I don’t want to block out all surrounding light, just dampen it some so the video is still watchable.
  • How do I set the camera to adjust to the huge changes in light so that I don’t have to do it during the event?
  • **Does anyone have equipment I can borrow?** (I’ll even bring you with me!)

Since I’m relying on automated settings I understand that any video coming out of this won’t be perfect, but I can accept that as I’d much rather watch the eclipse myself than have an immaculate recording of it. In any case, I hope you can all help me figure out how to do this.

I’m also looking for advice on the best places to go to view the solar eclipse. Anywhere in the zone of totality in either Idaho or Oregon would work with my road trip – bonus points if there are few eclipse tourists or if I can climb to the top of a cliff to get a nice high recording location. (Really, I just want an excuse to climb!) So if you have advice on video cameras, filming the sun, or a great location to witness the event, let me know!

cliffhanger-point
I aspire to be this kind of classy.

I’d love to hear your ideas and what you’re doing for the eclipse. Leave me a message in the comments, or if you’d like you can contact me directly through the site with any information you’ve got. I’d also be interested in collaborating on this if the right person comes along. I look forward to hearing from you!


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