Mystery solved.

I finally figured out what’s behind those mysterious white dots on my photos of the recent solar eclipse, done with the help of some astronomy apps on my phone along with a little time traveling.

I started with Google Sky Map and set the date to August 21 at 2:57pm, which was during the peak of the eclipse. I located the sun and lo and behold, there’s a bright star near it, the star of Regulus.

For a second opinion, I launched Star Chart and it too confirmed what Google Sky Map told me, right there in the constellation of Leo.

This is why I keep these apps handy. Google Sky Map is small and loads quickly for a simple view of the night sky. Star Chart has a more detailed view along with more detailed information than you can shake a telescope at.

Strange white dots from outer space.

I was reviewing the photos I took of the recent solar eclipse when I noticed something interesting. Visible in some of the pictures is a white dot near the sun. During the peak of the eclipse there are two dots visible.

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I’m really curious what those white dots are. I’m guessing they could be stars or neighboring planets. Whatever they are, they’re shining bright enough to be seen in the afternoon sky. Time to consult my astronomy apps to see if I can identify what they are.

The solar eclipse of August 21, 2017.

On Monday, August 21, 2017, there was a spectacular solar eclipse that unfolded across North America. Here are my pictures of the eclipse as seen from West Palm Beach, Florida. To take these pictures, I held up my solar viewing glasses to the camera lens and used a low exposure setting to accommodate the brightness of the sun.

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1:32pm
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1:49pm
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2:28pm
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During the peak of the eclipse, the sunlight began to diminish slightly. It was still sunny only it wasn’t as bright. In fact I noticed that the traffic lights were shining brighter.

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3:14pm
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4:05pm

By 4:19pm, the show was over.

Even though Florida didn’t get the total eclipse, it was still a spectacular view nonetheless.

Getting ready for the eclipse.

Next Monday, August 21, 2017, is a solar eclipse that will be visible across the United States, including my home state of Florida. I may not get to see the total eclipse here but it should still be spectacular viewing nonetheless.

I got the solar viewing glasses from my neighborhood Walmart and did some experimenting on which camera I will use to take pictures of the sun. I have a Samsung Galaxy On5 smartphone and a Canon PowerShot A530 camera but wasn’t sure which one would take better pictures.

To take these pictures, I positioned one of the protective lenses of the viewing glasses over the camera lens before aiming it at the sun. I took this first picture using the smartphone. I switched the camera to Pro mode, where I was able to control the exposure settings and also used the zoom function for an enlarged view.

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Although I tried to adjust the exposure settings to let in as little light as possible, the glare of the sun ended up distorting the final picture. I don’t think this will work.

Next I used the Canon camera. I set the ISO mode to 80, the shutter speed at 1/80 and zoomed in as close as I could get.

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A much clearer view. There’s still time for me to experiment with the other shutter speeds to see which one gets the clearest view of the sun, but I now know for sure I’ll be using the Canon for the eclipse. I will post the best pictures here.

The supermoon eclipse of September 27, 2015.

On Sunday, September 27, 2015, there was a rare supermoon eclipse that unfolded above our heads. Not only was it a lunar eclipse, it was also a supermoon and a blood moon as well. Three shows for the price of one. Here are my photos.

Before the eclipse began, I set up my telescope and did a practice shot with my camera at the eyepiece. It had been years since I last took pictures this way and needed to make sure my exposure settings were correct. It was cloudy at the time and there were clouds covering the Moon, giving it a rather hazy appearance.

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As the eclipse unfolded, the Moon turned dark red as predicted but it was tricky to photograph. I ended up having to use a timed exposure in which I left the shutter open for 2 seconds. It took many tries to get a good picture of this phase of the eclipse.

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A short while later the Moon returned to its normal color but the eclipse was still in progress. I decided to use a different camera and had to experiment with the different exposure settings before arriving at one that took some decent pictures of the Moon.

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Slowly the eclipse reached its conclusion and the Moon as we know it was restored to normal.

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I couldn’t resist one last picture of the Moon before putting my telescope away.

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The next supermoon eclipse will take place in the year 2033. Don’t miss it.