Australia has truly been blessed for astronomical events in the past 10 months; first we had the rare Transit of Venus in June 2012, then the Total Eclipse of the Sun in November 2012 and now a beautiful Annular Eclipse of the Sun on the 10th May 2013. It’s all been just so exciting!!!
But this Annular Eclipse is a lot harder to reach than the other two events; the path of the eclipse runs right across from Western Australia to the top of Northern Queensland and out into the Pacific Ocean. The shadow track is in some very hard to access places, except around the Northern Territory town of Tennant Creek or around the coastal town of Cooktown in Northern Queensland. There is an excellent map of the Eclipse track on Jay Anderson’s web page and more information on the eclipse on Joe Cali web page.
We’ve decided to go near Tennant Creek and this time we are flying not driving because it’s just too far away, so we’ll be flying into Alice Springs and hiring a motor home for the week to travel to the shadow path…’O’ it’s so exciting, I really feel like an eclipse chaser now :-)
Because we are flying I’ll not be using the same equipment as I used for the Transit of Venus and Solar Eclipse, as it would be quite impossible to take a heavy Meade 8inch Schmidt-Cassergrain telescope on the plane. I’m really going to miss the tracking and the beautiful big image, but the main thing is, I’m going to see the event and that’s all that matters…yeah!!
I have been trying out all of my other equipment and have finally decided to use my Canon 100-400mm lens with a 2X Kenko teleconverter with an Orion glass solar filter fitted to the lens. I did need to buy a new Manfrotto tripod head (Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head) so I could make micro adjustments without jolting the camera every time I wanted to adjust the filed of view. You will be amazed how quickly the Sun moves in the sky, and I’m use to using a tracking mount. You can buy Solar Filters for your camera lenses and telescopes at Sirius Optics near Brisbane or at Bintel (The Binocular and Telescope Shop) in Sydney and Melbourne.
There is also a fantastic little item that helps you find the Sun called a Sol-Searcher by Tele Vue, it’s obtainable at the astronomy shops mentioned above. With it, you just Velcro it onto the top of the camera lens and line up the dot of light from the Sun without looking through the lens and there it is…simple and easy…it’s great! BUT PLEASE…NEVER LOOK AT THER SUN WITHOUT PROPER SOLAR FILTERS ON LENSES AND TELESCOPES… EYE DAMAGE WILL LAST FOREVER!!!
I’ve been practicing and I feel that this is a great set-up because even though the Sun will be 95% covered by the Moon there is more than enough light to compensate for the focal length of the set-up. Using the 2x telecoverter will take the lens to f11 and that will be fine with the bright light still coming from the Sun. Here is a picture of the set-up and an image that was captured below…so all should be fine on the day…I hope!!! I’ll let you know how I did and will post some images soon :-))