August 21, 2017 – We first noticed the mania about the 2017 solar eclipse when we took our RV through the cute towns of Chugwater and Douglas, Wyoming, a few weeks ago. There were solar eclipse glasses for sale at checkout counters and all kinds of tourist pamphlets advertising the event.
We watched it in the Badlands of South Dakota where the eclipse would 95.7% of maximum — pretty close to total.
We set up three tripods with our cameras facing the rugged Badlands landscape to capture time-lapse video sequences of the two and a half hour progression from normal daylight through the dark skies of the eclipse and back to normal daylight again. We started the time-lapse videos a little more than an hour before the max eclipse time, and set the cameras to take images every four seconds. Then we got busy doing other things.
Because of the clouds, it was a little hard to tell that anything was happening. However, the sun eventually came out and it was a little dimmer than normal. Using a technique similar to the pin-hole boxes we had both made during solar eclipses as kids, Mark flipped a pair of binoculars upside down to show the image of the moon crossing the sun on the back of a white pizza box.
He thought of this technique at the last minute, and impressed the heck out of me. What a creative mind he has!! I asked him how he came up with the idea, and he just said, “Well, I needed something with a round hole.” Oh. Right. But of course!
We were in a quiet area, but as the eclipse progressed we noticed a fire engine pulled up to park a bluff. One firefighter climbed up on the roof of the truck to look at the changing landscape and the other stood out front. Cool!
I remember when I was child there was a solar eclipse visible across North America (in March, 1970), and my great-uncle, who was 85 at the time, began telling stories of a solar eclipse he had lived through as a kid in the last years of the 1800’s. He said the animals had gotten confused and had settled in to go to sleep. The chickens all roosted, the dogs curled up on the ground, and all the critters thought it was time to go to bed.
I don’t know if he was pulling my leg or not, but all of a sudden we saw a pair of big horn sheep babies playing out in the grasslands. They were romping around together bounding over the tall grasses when all of a sudden they stopped dead in their tracks and turned around to look at something behind them.
I’m not sure if they thought nighttime was coming, but one of them dozed off for a moment!
And then the magic moment arrived. 11:51:36 am was maximum eclipse time for us, and for the next two minutes we were at maximum moon-over-sun darkness of 95.7%.
I sneaked behind him to see what he was getting. Very cool!!
I wandered around with my pocket camera and got some images of the Badlands. Frankly, it wasn’t really that dark. At least it didn’t seem to be to me.
The sun was definitely still shining and there were distinct shadows on the ground. I took a shot of my shadow.
But when we looked at the time-lapse videos later, we discovered the cameras had picked up the darkening light very well. I had a polarizing filter on my Nikon D810 with an 18-35mm lens set to about 20mm with a shutter speed of 1/50 and aperture of f8. Mark didn’t have a polarizer and used a 24-120mm lens with a shutter speed of 1/200 at f5.6.
Here are the three time-lapse videos, the first two from our Nikon D810 cameras and the third from the Nikon Coolpix A. Each one is about 30 seconds long:
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The solar eclipse I remember from childhood was on March 7, 1970, and occurred in the middle of my weekly piano lesson. My wonderful piano teacher and I kept peeking out the window and looking into my pin hole box between recitations of Bach’s sonatas. Very fun! Here’s some info about that eclipse.
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Other blog posts from our travels featuring time-lapse videos:
- Solar Eclipse 2017: Time-Lapse Videos from the South Dakota Badlands
- Bryce Canyon – Hiking The Rim & Navajo Loop + A Tourist Time-lapse!
- Waterton Lakes Nat’l Park – Starry Skies, the Milky Way & Wildflowers
- Yoho National Park – Emerald Lake & Natural Bridge – Aqua Magic!
- Icefields Parkway – Canadian Rockies Scenic Drive – WOW!
- A Backcountry RV Roadtrip in SE Idaho – Quiet Splendor!
- Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah – Magical Sunrises!
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