Preparing for solar eclipse and transit of Venus

Started Apr 19, 2012 | Discussions
Lars Juhl Jensen
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Preparing for solar eclipse and transit of Venus
Apr 19, 2012

A few weeks back, I picked up a Rubinar 8/500 mirror reflex lens for the bargain price of $35. I figured it would be a fun challenge to use and might be good for a some moon shots as well. Later it occurred to me that a 500mm lens on a 2x crop factor camera should be pretty good for solar photos as well, which I find to be an interesting prospect with the upcoming solar eclipse and transit of Venus. However, to get photos of the sun - as opposed to a fried camera sensor - one needs a good solar filter.

After much looking around, I gave up finding a good, cheap screw-on solar filter. So I decided to make one myself, which turned out to be surprisingly simple. I bought 6" by 6" sheet of black polymer that amateur astronomers commonly tape over the front of their telescope to safely observer the sun. I then bought a 77-58mm step-down ring, which has flat 5mm wide rim at the front, glued it onto the black polymer sheet with normal white glue, and cut it out with a hobby knife. Total cost for solar filter: $15 including shipping of both items.

Here is the end result - one Rubinar 8/500 with home-made screw-on solar filter:

The only problem is that I am still waiting anxiously for the M42 adapter, so I cannot actually mount the thing on my camera.

To test if the solar filter works as intended, I hand-held the filter in front of an M.Zuiko 40-150mm. The resulting photo is nothing spectacular, but it shows that the solar filter works as intended (note the shutter speed):

If anyone else is searching for a cheap solar filter, I can certain recommend just making your own. It is much cheaper that buying ready-made products with filter thread, and it is very easy to do.

 Lars Juhl Jensen's gear list:Lars Juhl Jensen's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 Olympus PEN E-PL2 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II +9 more
Aleo Veuliah
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Re: Preparing for solar eclipse and transit of Venus
In reply to Lars Juhl Jensen, Apr 19, 2012

Good idea, thank you for the information, and when is the eclipse and the Venus transit ?

I am not much used to astro photography

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Lars Juhl Jensen
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Re: Preparing for solar eclipse and transit of Venus
In reply to Aleo Veuliah, Apr 19, 2012

The solar eclipse is on May 20 and the transit of Venus on June 5 or 6 (depending on where on the globe you are).

 Lars Juhl Jensen's gear list:Lars Juhl Jensen's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 Olympus PEN E-PL2 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II +9 more
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Bitslizer
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Re: Preparing for solar eclipse and transit of Venus
In reply to Lars Juhl Jensen, Apr 19, 2012

Where do you plan to observe this? seem to be mostly over the pacific/southwestern alaska with the start/end over in Japan/Western USA

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Aleo Veuliah
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Re: Thank you, and ...
In reply to Lars Juhl Jensen, Apr 19, 2012

Lars Juhl Jensen wrote:

The solar eclipse is on May 20 and the transit of Venus on June 5 or 6 (depending on where on the globe you are).

Thank you, I am in Portugal, Lisbon, GMT 0

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Imagination is more important than knowledge.

God always take the simplest way.

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Lars Juhl Jensen
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Re: Thank you, and ...
In reply to Aleo Veuliah, Apr 19, 2012

Just take a look here for the local transit times:
http://transitofvenus.nl/wp/where-when/local-transit-times/

 Lars Juhl Jensen's gear list:Lars Juhl Jensen's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 Olympus PEN E-PL2 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II +9 more
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Lars Juhl Jensen
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Re: Preparing for solar eclipse and transit of Venus
In reply to Bitslizer, Apr 19, 2012

Let's just say "not in a very good place". It will only be partial eclipse for me, but I just hope it will at least not be cloudy those days.

 Lars Juhl Jensen's gear list:Lars Juhl Jensen's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 Olympus PEN E-PL2 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II +9 more
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Aleo Veuliah
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Re: Thank you, and ...
In reply to Lars Juhl Jensen, Apr 19, 2012

Lars Juhl Jensen wrote:

Just take a look here for the local transit times:
http://transitofvenus.nl/wp/where-when/local-transit-times/

Again, thank you, I will look there, and have to make a reminder for the dates

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God is the tangential point between zero and infinity.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

God always take the simplest way.

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Skeeterbytes
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Re: Preparing for solar eclipse and transit of Venus
In reply to Lars Juhl Jensen, Apr 19, 2012

Super DIY project, thanks for sharing!

FWIW the May 20 event is an unusual annular eclipse, and will cross North America as well (on the 19th, due to the time zones). More here.

http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/OH2012.html#SE2012May20A

Cheers,

Rick

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Lars Juhl Jensen
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Re: Preparing for solar eclipse and transit of Venus
In reply to Lars Juhl Jensen, Apr 20, 2012

Made the following better test shot this morning holding the solar filter in front of M.Zuiko 40-150mm (followed by approximately 4x crop):

In the other news, the M42 adapter arrived while I was at work - I hope for a sunny day to test the full setup tomorrow.

 Lars Juhl Jensen's gear list:Lars Juhl Jensen's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 Olympus PEN E-PL2 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II +9 more
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Lars Juhl Jensen
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Success! First photo of the sun with Rubinar 8/500
In reply to Lars Juhl Jensen, Apr 21, 2012

I received the M42 adapter yesterday evening, and now the sun finally came out! Here is a first photo of the sun using the full setup: a Rubinar 8/500 reflex mirror on an adapter and with a DIY solar filter:

It certainly exceeds my expectations! I was not sure if I would be able to see any sunspots with a cheap setup like that, but I can. This will be plenty good for capturing the upcoming solar eclipse and transit of Venus.

 Lars Juhl Jensen's gear list:Lars Juhl Jensen's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 Olympus PEN E-PL2 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II +9 more
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Aleo Veuliah
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Re: Success! First photo of the sun with Rubinar 8/500
In reply to Lars Juhl Jensen, Apr 21, 2012

Very good, well done, looks great

Lars Juhl Jensen wrote:

I received the M42 adapter yesterday evening, and now the sun finally came out! Here is a first photo of the sun using the full setup: a Rubinar 8/500 reflex mirror on an adapter and with a DIY solar filter:

It certainly exceeds my expectations! I was not sure if I would be able to see any sunspots with a cheap setup like that, but I can. This will be plenty good for capturing the upcoming solar eclipse and transit of Venus.

-- hide signature --

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

God is the tangential point between zero and infinity.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

God always take the simplest way.

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400trix
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Re: Preparing for solar eclipse and transit of Venus
In reply to Lars Juhl Jensen, Apr 21, 2012

I really like this design. It ends up looking very professional. I'm not familiar with the film you are using is Baader Planetarium Astrosolar film:

http://www.baader-planetarium.com/sofifolie/sofi_start_e.htm

I've used this film for years with great results. I use the cell design that's on the web page.

While it won't be an issue for an annular eclipse or a transit, for a total eclipse such as this one:

its important to be able to get the filter off quickly, and in the excitement of the moment I could see fumbling with unthreading the filter, and then having more issues putting the filter back on to catch the trailing partials. Not a huge issue, and if you have ice-water in your veins it won't be an issue.

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God loves the noise just as much as the signal.

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Lars Juhl Jensen
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Re: Preparing for solar eclipse and transit of Venus
In reply to 400trix, Apr 21, 2012

Thanks - I'm pretty pleased with how the end result looks and performs myself.

The black polymer solar filter I use is from Thousand Oaks Optical:
http://www.thousandoaksoptical.com/solar.html

Regarding fumbling with taking off the filter for the total eclipse, I consider that a luxury problem I wish I had. Where I am, we will only get a partial eclipse.

 Lars Juhl Jensen's gear list:Lars Juhl Jensen's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 Olympus PEN E-PL2 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II +9 more
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Pedagydusz
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No good :-(
In reply to Aleo Veuliah, Apr 21, 2012

To us, the timing is bad. It will start at 23 hrs, and end before 6 hrs next morning.
Bummer!
--
Antonio

http://ferrer.smugmug.com/

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Dheorl
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Re: Preparing for solar eclipse and transit of Venus
In reply to Lars Juhl Jensen, Apr 21, 2012

Due to a uni project I'm doing at the moment I've got a pretty good setup for viewing the sun using a home-made baader solar film filter.

It's using a 60mm telescope with an adapter for my G2 (there was a thread asking about it a while back on here, thanks to everyone who helped).

Here's one of the images I got. After seeing the number of sunspots on your's I might have to go out and take some now for my project.

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yellodog
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Re: Preparing for solar eclipse and transit of Venus
In reply to Dheorl, Apr 21, 2012

Wow, fantastic image.

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yellodog
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Re: Preparing for solar eclipse and transit of Venus
In reply to Lars Juhl Jensen, Apr 21, 2012

Fascinating thread. Good work.

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grumpyolderman
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Re: Preparing for solar eclipse and transit of Venus
In reply to Lars Juhl Jensen, Apr 21, 2012

I made my own filter with sun eclipse foil. Yours looks very nice, mine is of the "slip over variety" made from rolls of cardboard....however the results are pretty good, see below, I can observe sunspots, and you can also look through the foil directly into the sun with the naked eye, the light that remains usually means I have to take 1/250th to 1/500 shots at midd day, when of course the "seeing" is best.

JL

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Lars Juhl Jensen
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Re: Preparing for solar eclipse and transit of Venus
In reply to Dheorl, Apr 21, 2012

Fantastic photo - but I am not going to buy a telescope to do this!

 Lars Juhl Jensen's gear list:Lars Juhl Jensen's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 Olympus PEN E-PL2 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II +9 more
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