8 things (really 5) to do with your solar filter now that the 2017 eclipse is over!
The 2017 total eclipse was a great event that I’ll never forget! I got my filter way ahead of time, I picked my spot for observation and practiced with my equipment. The results were some cool pictures but an even more memorable total body experience.
So, now that the eclipse is over, what to do with those much coveted, hard to come by solar filters. By their nature you can’t use them for much else but looking at the sun. Well, here are some uses for the filters you may not have thought of.
- Believe it or not there is another eclipse happening in our area! Yes, April 8, 2024 will bring another total eclipse. This time it’s mostly on the eastern USA, but Carbondale IL will have complete totality again!
- Transits are when an object crosses in front of the Sun and is seen from Earth as a silhouette. The planet Mercury will transit the sun on November 11th, 2019. From Earth it will look like a small black disc making its way across the face of the Sun. The solar filters will allow you to see and photograph this transit. In the photo below Mercury is the dot in the lower middle of the Sun
- The International Space Station (ISS) also transits the Sun on a regular basis. You may be familiar with the now famous NASA picture of the 2017 eclipse with the ISS in the frame (pictured below left). There are several websites the will calculate dates and times to see the ISS transit the Sun. transit-finder.com is popular site but there are others. Use your filters to record the event, it’s addictive.
- Track sunspots! This is the most common use for solar filters, tracking spots are easy and only takes a few seconds a day. One quick look or a quick picture reveals movements from day to day. Combine the pictures into a time lapse movie and you can see it move across the Sun. Sunspots take on average two weeks to cross the Sun so you can miss a day with no harm done.
- Another type of transits are aircraft transits. With good planing and timing you can get airplanes and helicopters (drones?) silhouetted against the Sun. Your filter will allow you the get these great shots with no problem. Furthermore, if you can get these pictures against a setting/rising Sun, you got a keeper for sure. This definitely takes practice, it also helps to live near an airport.
If none of the above peaked your interest, here are at a couple “non-traditional” uses for your solar filter:
- A tiny tambourine
- Ineffective frisbee
- Small pet bowl
But seriously, if you are not going to use your filter for a while its important to store it carefully. The film material is susceptible to punctures and cuts, either one will make your filter INEFFECTIVE! If you get a cut or hole in you filter, discard it and do not try to use it! Store your filter in a hard case or wrapped in several layers of impervious material. Many of you paid good money for the filters, protect them and get the most use out of them…see you in 2024!!
-Rob Haughton, O’Fallon, IL Creve Coeur Camera