How I shot the 2017 Solar Eclipse in totality for less than $35.

Somehow I started ahead of the curve with this whole 2017 solar eclipse.  How could I photograph this extremely rare astrological phenomenon that was due to land in my backyard in Kansas City, MO, I wondered?  And by how, I meant how could I spend very little money and accomplish this.  I have shot a couple of photos of a Blood Moon a few months back with my iPhone smashed up against my telescope at home.  It seemed pretty simple.  So I set out to gather my equipment.  Research, research, research....put off real job, put off laundry, read and read some more.  Ok, I am now an eclipse expert.  Telescope, check....iPhone, check....I guess I need a filter for the end of my scope as to not burn my eyes or the camera sensor.  WHAT????  $150 dollars?  Son of a biscuit thats a lot of money!  Plan B, $9.99 for a Thousand Oaks sheet of NASA approved solar protection and DIY filter holder?  Yes, please. (thank you YouTube)  Next...must stabilize cell phone.  Price range for telescope cell phone adapter $19.99-$99.  Thanks you Gosky for not only being the least expensive option, but also working like a charm.  I think I'm pretty good now! Read, read, read some more (OCD officially in overdrive)...what's this?  I need to take bracketed photos for best results???  Surely there's an app for that.  YAAAAASSSSS....NightCap iPhone App for $1.99.  BEST PART?  Upon further research, this app has a step by step tutorial for taking bracketed, long exposure photos OF THE ECLIPSE with your iPhone.  

The whole process of creating my unique astro-contraption was pretty easy and fun.  I built this thing like a boss and even thought to put a protective flap over my filter!  Then Monday morning....the rain rain rain came down down down and we were crying buckets of tears.  We started looking at the radar and the morning's massive thunderstorm looked to be dissipating about 1.5 hours before scheduled totality (1:08 KC time) but what about the cloud cover?!?!  We found a special radar app specific to cloud cover, and our original destination looked to have a perfect pocket of clarity directly above off we went.  

We drove to the KC Mormon Temple and set up our table and telescope.  Partial phases had already started, and I still had to find the sun with the telescope with zero point of reference (can't see nothin' through that protective filter). Finally success after about 5 minutes of scouring the sky in a meticulous grid.  Everything was set up and in focus.  I went through the NightCap tutorial and everything was ready.  The only problem I had was that I messed up the focus when trying to remove the homemade filter; it was on a little snug.  As I was frantically refocusing, I was unable to photograph the ring and Bailey's beads :(  I thought for a moment I wasn't going to get the eclipse back in my frame and that all was lost.  Luckily, it finally got back in focus.  I pressed the button and was able to let the iPhone shoot automatically for all of totality, while I watched the kids freak out and loose their minds.  Cloud cover came back in right as the second ring was forming, so we lost it after that.  I know I should be super happy about my results for $35, being that this was my first attempt at any of this!  But I just can't quit thinking about the ring and beads that got away...

Posted on August 21, 2017 .