April 8, 2024 solar eclipse, Cedar Hill, Texas

My family and I traveled for 4 days to Cedar Hill, Texas (near Dallas) to see the eclipse. We stayed in a house in a suburban neighborhood, which is near a large park with a lake and nice walking and biking trails. The wildflowers were quite striking, with the bluebonnets especially plentiful in nearby open fields.

Because of a rental car shortage, we viewed the eclipse from the back yard of the house where we stayed. We were approximately halfway from the center to the edge of the path of totality, but based on simple math I only expected this to reduce the totality duration by ~13%. For a number of days before the eclipse, the weather forecasts predicted a high chance of both low-level and high-level clouds, so we were not optimistic as the time approached. Monday, April 8 started out cloudy in the morning, but the clouds started to show breaks by the time the partial eclipse started. As more of the sun was blocked, the clouds dissipated entirely. So we were quite fortunate and had an unobstructed view during totality. The clouds started to appear again as the partial eclipse neared its end.

For visual observing, I brought a 60 mm refractor, which I was able to disassemble enough to fit into my suitcase, my brother brought a 5" spotting scope, and we also had eclipse glasses and welder's glass to look at the sun without magnification. I took the photos of the sun shown below using my dad's Canon EOS R7 camera, with the zoom lens set to its maximum focal length of 150 mm. Because the sun filter I used with the camera was also needed for visual observing through the 60mm refractor, and since I did not want to have the camera pointed at the sun when removing the filter, I ended up holding the camera manually for all of the photos rather than using a tripod.

Partial eclipse - first half

12:48 pm 12:52 pm 1:12 pm 1:22 pm

Canon EOS R7 at f/6.3, 150mm, with Spectrum Telescope sun filter, cropped

These images (click on the thumbnails for full size) were taken during the first part of the eclipse by manually holding a sun filter in front of the camera lens. The sun filter is a metal-coated glass plate attached to a metal collar. While it is designed for a somewhat larger refractor telescope, the collar at least made it possible to keep it from slipping off of the lens. The focusing was done in manual mode (without the sun filter) using a distant tree. Clouds were a problem early on, but they fortunately dissipated as the eclipse progressed. In the first two images, both a large sunspot (near center) and a small sunspot (closer to left edge of sun) can be seen.

Crescent-shaped leaf projections

1:26 pm 1:30 pm 1:36 pm

These images of the ground show many copies of the sun's image, projected through random gaps in the tree leaves, narrowing to a thin crescent as totality approached.

Total eclipse

single frame, 1/30 sec single frame, 1/4000 sec
3 x 1/30 sec 6 x 1/250 sec 2 x 1/1000 sec 3 x 1/4000 sec
1/4000 sec, color stretched combined (v1) combined (v2)

Canon EOS R7 at f/6.3, 150mm, cropped

The total portion of the eclipse went from approximately 1:40-1:44pm. Although we were mostly focused on visual observing, I took some photos using the same manual focus setting I used for the partial eclipse photos above, at four different exposure settings. The top row of photos shows two examples of uncropped, original frames. Because the gain was set too high (ISO 2000) the areas that are not overexposed can appear grainy. The middle row of photos shows the results of stacking multiple exposures taken with the same settings to improve the signal-noise ratio. The stacking included automatic correction of the translation and rotation of each new image to match the reference image. The longest exposure (1/30 sec) shows the large extent of the corona, while the shortest exposure (1/4000 sec) shows the pink prominences that extend just beyond the edge of the moon (they looked more pink visually than in the photo). The bottom row of photos are more processed attempts to convey an impression of what we could see visually, given the dynamic range limitations of a computer display. For the color-stretched image, a linear color mapping was designed to preserve the blue color of the sky and the white color of the corona, while increasing the color saturation of the prominences. For the combined images, the three longer exposures were summed to create an extended corona image. This was then combined with the shortest exposure using a radially-weighted blend. The 'v1' image displays the corona less intensely, making the prominences relatively brighter, matching the impression I had through the telescope. The 'v2' image displays the corona more intensely relative to the prominensces, matching the impression I had looking without the telescope.

Partial eclipse - second half

2:24 pm 2:27 pm 2:32 pm 2:35 pm

Canon EOS R7 at f/6.3, 150mm, with Spectrum Telescope sun filter, cropped

These images were taken after totality, again using the sun filter. The third image shows the reemergence of the main sunspot. Clouds started to return before the partial eclipse ended.