Frequently Asked Questions

We have organized this FAQ based on the level or form of participation that our volunteers will be engaged in. To learn more about the tiers of participation and what each level entails, please see the volunteers page

If you participated in the 2017 Eclipse Megamovie, you will be familiar with this level of participation. Eclipse Observers who participate in EM2024 for the April 2024 eclipse are expected to:

  1. Photograph the eclipse
  2. Take flats and darks (calibration shots)
  3. Include location data with your photographs (ideally in the metadata)
  4. Upload your RAW photographs to the EM2024 website

The mount design that we adapted was designed to hold a camera that weighs 3lbs. This is the most weight we recommend placing on the mount.

Basic equipment necessary for participating in the Eclipse 2017 Megamovie:

  • DSLR camera (or equivalent) with a telephoto lens (200mm or greater) and a tripod
  • Camera settings: ISO 100, f/8, 1/1000 second exposure
  • Camera must be able to take RAW images
  • Camera must have a GPS receiver or be able to connect to a GPS receiver
  • To participate in the Eclipse Megamovie Project you will need an interchangeable lens digital camera, such as a DSLR (digital single lens reflex), or mirrorless camera. Examples of these include: Canon T5i or 7D, Nikon D7200 or D810, etc
  • A mirrorless camera, such as the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5, are acceptable for taking images for the Eclipse Megamovie
  • We are applying for funding to supply an equatorial mount and/or cameras to communities with educators who apply to our program. Watch for the opportunity to apply for this program

To participate in the Eclipse Megamovie Project you will need a telephoto or zoom lens with the following:

  • For a camera with a APS-C crop-sensor, a minimum focal length of 200mm, up to a maximum of around 600
  • For a camera with a full frame sensor, a minimum focal length of 300mm, up to a maximum of 800mm
  • Either a fixed focal length telephoto lens, or a zoom lens with the acceptable focal length in its range is acceptable.

A well done image at 8 megapixels is potentially better than a poor image taken at 100 megapixels! In general, photos should have a minimum resolution of 16 megapixels or greater.

  • Your telephoto/zoom lens should provide a field of view (FOV) which includes the Sun’s corona. A 300mm focal length will provide a field of view of approximately 4 ½ degrees of sky. You can calculate the FOV for your particular DSLR and lenses using the tools on this website.
  • Images for the Megamovie should have a field of view of between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees in the shortest dimension.
  • No, as long as the field of view of your Images are between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees in the shortest dimension.
  • The aspect ratio of your image does not matter, it is all about the field of view.
  • Minor cropping is acceptable.
  • Please do not make any adjustments to image contrast, color correction, brightness, sharpening, or use HDR.

The use of a telescope for imaging the eclipse is also acceptable, though it will require additional considerations and equipment, such as:

  • A T-mount and T-ring for mounting the camera to the telescope
  • If using eyepiece projection, make sure the FOV is sufficient to include the Sun’s corona
  • Prior to the eclipse you will have to identify the resulting orientation of the image if shooting through a telescope (inverted vs. right side up; left-right inversion; etc.).

In general, the use of a telescope for imaging is fine as long as you follow the same focal length and field of view rules as for lenses. There may also be some additional processing required to align the images to others taken with level tripods

Yes, a stable and level tripod is essential to ensure the quality of images needed for the Eclipse Megamovie Project.

There are various methods for leveling one’s tripod:

  • A built-in bulls-eye type spirit/bubble level, or an external one you can place on the tripod. Also available through smartphone “bubble level” apps.
  • Some DSLRs have a built-in artificial horizon which can help with leveling the camera.
  • Mounting the camera piggyback on a telescope is acceptable, just be sure to note this under the 'Advanced options' at upload.
  • If using a fork mounted Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (SCT) without a wedge, you will have to make sure the telescope mount is level as you would a standard camera tripod.

Mounting the camera piggyback on a telescope is also acceptable, though it will require additional considerations:

  • Most modern cameras have the ability to time stamp eclipse images in camera. If your camera does not do this, you can purchase an add-on GPS device to tag images with an accurate timestamp.
  • If you use the internal time in camera, you will need to synchronize the camera time with your cell phone or GPS unit time to the nearest second before taking photos with the DSLR. Also make sure your time zone is in sync between your phone and camera.

Some modern cameras have a built-in system to tag images with the GPS coordinates for the location where you take the images are taken. If your camera does not have this, then you have a couple of options:

  • Use an add-on GPS device to tag images with their coordinates.
  • An external GPS unit which reads out your coordinates to enter via metadata editing software.
  • Include a GPS tagged photo from a different device (e.g. your smartphone) when uploading your photos. This tag will be applied to all photos in that upload session. Note: for best results, please make sure your smartphone and external camera have the same time setting.

The use of an external shutter release allows you to take images without touching the camera, thus reducing camera shake and vibration induced blurring. There are several options to accomplish this:

  • Use a remote hand-held trigger, either wired or wireless.
  • Set up the camera in time-lapse mode to take a series of images automatically.
  • Use the self-timer mode to take an image without touching the camera.
  • Tether the camera to a laptop or notebook computer with software to control the camera via the computer.

Pointing your camera at the sun without protection may damage the camera (more thorough explanation here). You can protect your camera in several ways, including:

  • Leave lens cap on until immediately before imaging at the onset of totality.
  • Use a solar filter on your camera and remove it at the beginning of totality.

In addition to the above two options, it is suggested to cover your camera in a white cloth to keep it cool during the heat of the August day.

The ability to lock the camera mirror in the up position is useful to reduce camera shake when taking images.

Some experts recommend disabling the image stabilization feature, as it can induce some slight vibrations to the camera system, and thus blurring, to an image.

Hopefully you will have access to the internet so you can upload your images soon after the end of totality, preferably within an hour of the end of the eclipse, but also for a week (maybe more) after.

For the Eclipse Megamovie 2024 project, we require at least 50 bracketed images (with 90 being our preferred number of images) between the exposure time of 0.001 second to 4 seconds, preferably in a logarithmic time array with more images at the longer exposure time and fewer at the shorter exposure time. RAW, JPEG and TIFF files are accepted. ZIP files are not accepted, but you can upload multiple images at once.

RAW files accepted in the following formats: .3fr, .ari, .arw, .bay, .crw, .cr2, .cap, .data, .dcs, .dcr, .dng, .drf, .eip, .erf, .fff, .gpr, .k25, .kdc, .mdc, .mef, .mos, .mrw, .nef, .nrw, .obm, .orf, .pef, .ptx, .pxn, .r3d, .raf, .raw, .rwl, .rw2, .rwz, .sr2, .srf, .srw, .x3f

Your photos will be included in a publicly available dataset that scientists around the world will use to study the sun and its atmosphere.

If you’re a member of the Photo Team (volunteers who signed up ahead of time) your photos will also be included in the “Megamovie”. This will be an early preview of the dataset, where we algorithmically stitch together photos from across the US into a continuous view of the corona as the eclipse passes overhead.

The dataset will include information in two formats: EXIF data in each photo and a database. The information in the dataset will include:

  • Photographer name - From account used to submit photos (optional, see below) - EXIF
  • Unique user ID - Database only
  • GPS location (if included in photo) - EXIF and database
  • Timestamp - EXIF and database
  • Camera specifics (make, model, etc) - EXIF only (database has normalized camera class)
  • Photo specifics (exposure, ISO, etc.) - EXIF only

Yes. The details will be posted here when they are available.

You are welcome to upload all photos just after the eclipse. However, if upload times are slow for you due to local internet use, feel free to upload 1-5 images for use in the first Megamovie compilation. Pick images that show any part of the corona (at 0-4 solar diameters) looking its best. JPEG files are much smaller than RAW files, so converting them will speed up upload time. Then once you get back to a comfortable setting with good internet, please upload the rest of your images of totality for use in the science part of this project.

  • All photos submitted to the project will be released under a CC0 (Public Domain) license. This means that it will be part of the public domain and easy for the science community to use for scientific research and future projects.
  • You will have an option to add your name, and we’ll include it in the Megamovie project credits, or you can submit your photo without your name attached. Your acknowledgement and acceptance of such use will be handled through the upload process on the website.

The megamovie can be found here

These photographs have been used in a variety of ways and continue to be used. They have been used to make several videos of the solar corona, as shown in the Media page on the EM2024 website, by students and the EM2024 Science PI, Juan Carlos Martinez Oliveros. They have also been used to look for jets and plumes, observed by a solar research team and published (Hanoaka et al., 2018). The plume was discovered by creating High-Dynamic-Range (HDR) images with 90 separate images from the 2017 volunteers’ images, which were centered using the Hough Transform, and rotated and aligned using the star regulus. Then HDR images were subtracted from one another to find transient features in the solar corona. This work resulted in an oral presentation at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference in December 2022 by Grace Kallman, one of the many students who contributed to the analysis of the images. In doing this research, we learned how to re-engineer the way volunteers take photographs to get better HDR images and ultimately to find jets and plumes in 2024.

Jeffery Reedy has created a google share link for this project with the modified files. Modified files are located in the Modified Parts subfolder within the Files folder.

List of modifications:

  • Manfrotto_15 and Manfrotto_45 parts modified to be generic part that gets attached to quick-release plate on tripod. Additionally parts are created for 25, 30, 35, 40 degree latitudes.
  • Controller enclosure box made larger.
  • Created CAMERA-MOUNT-CONNECTOR.STL and connector_tightening_knob.STL for attaching camera to mount for those that don't have camera ball joint.

We want the uncorrected RAW HDR images; I.E. .CR2, .CR3, .NEF, ARW (Sony), etc.

If you need to change any information related to your plans for the April eclipse, please email Dar at and explain the change. Dar will update our records to reflect the update. Also be sure to include your location when submitting your photographs and flats and darks.

Unfortunately registration to signup as a photographer for EM2024 closed on March 18th. If you would still like to upload photographs that you take of the eclipse, we will have more information for you soon. Stay tuned!

From the Parker Solar Probe chatbot, Parkerbot. To access the chatbot, click on the chat bubble in orange on the bottom right corner of the project’s home page.

The Heliophysics Big Year is a global celebration of solar science and the Sun's influence on Earth and the entire solar system. It is a year-long event that allows people to participate in various solar science activities, such as observing solar eclipses, experiencing auroras, and engaging in participatory science projects. The Big Year concept originated from bird-watching, where birders try to observe as many bird species as possible in a year. Similarly, the Heliophysics Big Year encourages individuals to study and explore the Sun and its effects on our solar system. It is open for participation to both NASA and non-NASA groups, aiming to share the science, art, and beauty of heliophysics.

A solar jet, or solar spicule, is a transient, jet-like feature in the Sun's atmosphere. They are narrow streams of plasma that erupt from the solar surface, reaching high speeds and extending thousands of kilometers into the corona. Solar jets are relatively small and short-lived, lasting only a few minutes. They are thought to be caused by magnetic reconnection, a process where intersecting magnetic field lines rearrange and release energy. These jets are important for understanding solar phenomena, as they contribute to heating the solar corona and accelerating the solar wind. They are also significant in the study of space weather, which can impact satellite and communication systems on Earth. Solar jets are typically observed using space-based solar observatories.

A plasma plume is a large, elongated structure made of ionized gas (plasma) extending from the Sun's surface or coronal areas. They are relatively stable and can last several hours or days, unlike the more transient solar jets. Plasma plumes are typically found in regions with open magnetic field lines, such as coronal holes, and are believed to be sources of the fast solar wind. These plumes help scientists understand the dynamics of the solar wind and its impact on space weather, which is significant for satellite operations and communication systems on Earth. Plasma plumes are observed using space-based telescopes and solar observatories.

Solar Jets and Plasma Plumes have been “hidden” behind necessary instrumentation discs on satellites used by NASA. The discs are used to protect “white-light” cameras onboard a satellite from the bright solar photosphere. These cameras are used to study the outer solar corona in the visible wavelengths. The inner corona is thus blocked, making it hard to study the evolution and motions of these plasma jets and plumes. Jets and plumes can be observed leaving the solar photosphere but then NASA has only had limited ability to track their motion off the Sun into the solar wind. Satellite cameras, like those on SOHO satellite, can pick up any jets that make it out to their field of view. But the jets that don’t make it that far cannot be studied. Ground-based solar telescopes can study these features by looking at their green emissions, which can get past the atmosphere. Other visible colors emitted from the scattered photospheric light off these features are blocked by the atmosphere, but are important for understanding the plasma jet and plumes’ densities and perhaps their evolution.

Photographing the sun's corona during a total solar eclipse is crucial for several scientific and astronomical reasons:

  • Studying Solar Atmosphere: The corona is the outermost part of the sun's atmosphere. During a total solar eclipse, when the moon completely covers the sun, the corona becomes visible. This provides a unique opportunity for scientists to study its structure, dynamics, and properties directly.
  • Solar Physics Research: The corona is hotter than the surface of the sun, a phenomenon that remains not fully understood. Observations made during a solar eclipse can help in understanding the heating mechanisms of the corona.
  • Space Weather Understanding: The sun's corona is the source of the solar wind and solar energetic particles. Studying the corona can enhance our understanding of space weather, which affects satellite operations, astronaut safety, and Earth's power grids.
  • Advancing Astrophotography: Solar eclipses offer a unique opportunity for both professional and amateur astronomers to capture images using various techniques and equipment, contributing to the field of astrophotography.
  • Historical and Comparative Studies: By photographing the corona over various eclipses, scientists can compare how it changes over time. This helps in understanding the sun's activity cycle and its impact on the solar system.
  • Testing and Calibration of Instruments: Eclipses provide a chance to test and calibrate instruments designed for solar observation, which can then be used in space missions or ground-based observatories.
  • Public Interest and Education: Solar eclipses garner significant public interest. Photographs of the sun's corona can stimulate public engagement and education in science and astronomy.
  • Discovering Unknown Phenomena: Historically, solar eclipses have led to the discovery of new celestial phenomena, such as helium, first observed in the solar spectrum during an eclipse.
  • Solar Magnetic Field Study: The corona reveals the structure of the sun's magnetic field. Understanding this is crucial for predicting solar flares and coronal mass ejections.

The phases of a total solar eclipse are commonly referred to as C1, C2, C3, and C4, marking the different stages of the eclipse.

C1 (First Contact): This is the beginning of the partial eclipse phase. The Moon starts to move across the Sun's disk. It's the moment when the Moon's edge first touches the edge of the Sun. Observers need to use solar filters to watch this phase to avoid eye damage.

C2 (Second Contact): This marks the start of totality in a total solar eclipse. The Moon completely covers the disk of the Sun. It's at this moment that Bailey's Beads and the Diamond Ring effect can be seen. Right as the last of these phenomena disappear, it's safe to remove solar filters and observe the total eclipse with the naked eye.

Totality: During this phase, the Sun's disk is completely covered by the Moon. The corona, the Sun's outer atmosphere, becomes visible. This is the only phase of a solar eclipse that can be observed without protective eyewear, but it's crucial to put the solar filters back on at the end of totality.

C3 (Third Contact): This is the end of totality. The Moon starts to uncover the Sun's disk, marking the beginning of the partial phase of the eclipse post-totality. As soon as the Sun's bright surface begins to reappear, it's necessary to use solar filters again to protect your eyes.

C4 (Fourth Contact): This is the end of the eclipse. The Moon no longer overlaps with the Sun's disk, and the eclipse is over. Up until this point, solar filters are necessary to safely observe the eclipse

Throughout these phases, especially during C1, C2, C3, and C4, it's crucial to use proper solar viewing protection to prevent eye damage. The only exception is the brief period of totality (between C2 and C3) during a total solar eclipse when the Sun's bright disk is completely covered by the Moon.

The difference between DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) and mirrorless cameras primarily lies in their mechanics and design.

Mirror Mechanism:

  • DSLR: These cameras use a mirror mechanism. Light enters through the lens and is reflected by a mirror up into an optical viewfinder, allowing you to see exactly what the lens sees. When you take a photo, the mirror flips up, the shutter opens, and light hits the image sensor.
  • Mirrorless: As the name implies, these cameras do not have a mirror. Light passes directly through the lens to the image sensor, and the live image is displayed on an electronic viewfinder or the LCD screen.

Size and Weight:

  • DSLR: Generally larger and heavier due to the mirror and prism system.
  • Mirrorless: Tend to be smaller and lighter as they do not have the mirror mechanism and optical viewfinder.


  • DSLR: Uses an optical viewfinder which shows a light-through-the-lens (TTL) view. This can be advantageous in bright light conditions.
  • Mirrorless: Uses an electronic viewfinder (EVF) or just the LCD screen. The EVF can display more information (like exposure data, histograms, etc.) and allows you to preview the final image in real-time.

Autofocus Speed:

  • DSLR: Traditionally had faster autofocus due to the phase-detection technology. However, this gap is rapidly closing.
  • Mirrorless: Initially slower with autofocus, but recent models have improved significantly, often matching or surpassing DSLRs.

Battery Life:

  • DSLR: Typically has longer battery life because they can shoot without using the LCD screen or EVF, which consume a lot of power.
  • Mirrorless: Usually has shorter battery life since the EVF and LCD screen are used more frequently.

Lens and Accessory Compatibility:

  • DSLR: Often has a wide range of available lenses and accessories, especially from established brands.
  • Mirrorless: Initially had fewer lens options, but this is rapidly changing as more lenses are being manufactured for mirrorless systems.

Shooting Speed:

  • DSLR: Can be limited in shooting speed because of the physical movement of the mirror.
  • Mirrorless: Can offer higher continuous shooting speeds as there's no mirror to move out of the way.

Video Performance:

  • DSLR: Historically not as focused on video, but newer models have improved video capabilities.
  • Mirrorless: Generally offers better video performance and features due to their design and live view focus.

In summary, mirrorless cameras offer advantages in size, weight, and often in video performance, while DSLRs offer optical viewfinders, potentially better autofocus in older models, and longer battery life. The choice between the two depends on your specific needs, preferences, and the kind of photography or videography you plan to do.

To aim your camera, you will need to look at, or near, the Sun. You should not do this without any protection–even with sunglasses. Solar viewing glasses are the only safe way to look directly at the Sun. Be sure to keep the glasses handy for when you take a break from photographing! But also remember to take off your glasses if the moon completely blocks the Sun (totality) so you can see the solar corona, which is only as bright as the moon! You won’t see anything with your solar viewing glasses on and would miss out on the best part of a total solar eclipse.

It is not safe to look at the sun through a camera's viewfinder, as doing so can cause severe eye damage and potentially damage the camera's sensor. In DSLR cameras, the concentrated sunlight coming through the optical viewfinder can lead to solar retinopathy, resulting in permanent eye damage or blindness. Similarly, for mirrorless cameras, pointing them directly at the sun can harm the electronic sensor (except during totality). If you wish to photograph the sun, you must use a proper solar filter on the lens, which reduces the sun's intensity to safe levels, until the moon fully covers the Sun. To photograph the corona, take the filters off the lens and then replace them as the moon and Sun part ways. Always adhere to safety guidelines when observing or photographing solar events.

We are looking for uncompressed files RAW files.

A master flat in astrophotography is a critical calibration frame created by averaging multiple "flat frames" to correct for imperfections in the imaging system. These flat frames, captured by photographing an evenly illuminated surface, help address issues like vignetting (corner dimming), uneven field illumination, and blemishes from dust or scratches on the camera sensor or telescope optics. In post-processing, the master flat is used to normalize the light across the field of an astronomical image, thereby ensuring that the final image accurately represents the celestial objects without being marred by the optical system's flaws. This process is essential for high-quality astrophotography, particularly when imaging deep sky objects.

Yes, we definitely will want to know your camera and as many specifications about the wavelengths detected because the "white" is different in a modified DSLR. We will have you fill out another survey prior to uploading your data. Then we can put this information as “metadata” onto each photograph.

NASA has chronographs that image the Sun from 2 solar radii out to 30 solar radii in white light: Lasco C2 and C3, with fields of view from 2 to 6 solar radii (C2) and 3.7 to 30 solar radii (C3). We want to see the plasma transients from 1 solar radii (from the Sun’s photosphere) to at least 3 solar radii, to overlap with NASA’s images. So from the closest edge of the photo to the center of the Sun should always be greater than 3 solar radii, and 4 solar radii would allow us direct comparison with Lasco C2. Since we plan to have you center the Sun in the middle of your photos, the height should be a total of 3-4 solar diameters (6-8 solar radii). The Sun is about a half a degree in diameter so depending on your camera's image resolution, 2 degree field of view as the narrowest would be acceptable.

See C2 Field of view examples here.

For a full frame sensor 24mm x 36 mm @ 500mm focal length lens this translates to x = 4.1 deg and y = 2.7 deg for example.

Yes, the radius is a dynamic number.

The mount has been tested on the following cameras:

  • CANON SL1 w/ 18-300mm lens @ 2.5 pounds for the combo.
  • Sony Alpha 7 III w 85 mm prime (all the tester had).
  • Nikon D3500 w 70-300mm lens.

It would be impossible to test for all combinations since we are limited on what access to cameras we have. Suffice to say if your combination of camera and lens is significantly heavier, the 3-D printed mount may not work for you. A more robust solution may need to be found.

The original designer of the mount we adapted may have used this equipment: Canon 750D and Canon 18-55mm, but he was doing more star photography with his set up.

500mm for full frame, and for APS-C sensor: 275-300mm.

Yes. The coronal mass ejections (large ejections off of the sun) will likely be seen moving to the west and east side of the sun. The jets that we are looking for will, we think, be seen moving north or south away from the sun.

Juan Carlos Martinez Oliveros, our solar scientist, worked with a student at UC Berkeley and created Python code to stack the images and make them an HDR (and create fits files). We will provide the code, it is all open source, but our team will be working to clean up the code and it will be available on different sites. We will be holding a competition to see what participants can do with the code and stacking.

The project requires uncompressed, RAW data with calibration files, and also your location at the time of shooting.

The January Zoom will be our big technical meeting with all of the specs!

In astrophotography, "flats" and "darks" are calibration frames used to enhance image quality. Flats, or flat frames, correct for vignetting and dust spots on the sensor or optics; they're captured by photographing an evenly lit, featureless surface and are used to ensure uniform brightness and color across the image. Darks, or dark frames, are taken with the camera's lens cap on to record sensor noise, particularly thermal noise during long exposures. These frames are captured with the same settings as the actual celestial images. In post-processing, flats are averaged to create a master flat, and darks are combined into a master dark.

Yes, just send the master flat. But we would like you to share how you do the 41 flat and integrate.

The solar filter should be removed just as totality begins (at the end of C2) and reattached as soon as totality ends (at the beginning of C3). The appearance of Bailey's Beads is very brief, so preparation and timing are key for safe observation and photography.

Between C2 and C3, no longer than 1 second and no quicker than 1/50. This will give us the best data to calculate the jets’ velocities.

When you submit your eclipse images you will be submitting your flats and darks along with them.

You should expect to have some additional tools and equipment accessible on the day of the eclipse, such as:

  • Tripod with quick-mount release.
  • Digital Camera (DSLR) capable of being controlled to produce the desired exposure sequences. This can include astronomy image capture software such as N.I.N.A., Backyard Nikon, backyard EOS, Camera’s control software, etc. The camera sensor size should either be full frame, APS-C, Micro 4/3, or 1”. Refer to the camera’s manual to find which sensor size the camera has
  • A variable zoom lens. A prime lens within the range listed below for the respective sensor size of the camera is also acceptable.
  • For full frame cameras (sensor size 36 mm x 24 mm), a lens with zoom capabilities from 300 mm to 600 mm is acceptable. The ideal focal length is 500mm.
  • For APS-C cameras (approx sensor size 25.1 mm x 16.7 mm), a lens with zoom capabilities from 270 mm to 400 mm is acceptable. The ideal focal length is 300mm.
  • For micro 4/3 cameras (approx sensor size 17.3 mm x 13 mm), a lens with zoom capabilities from 250 mm to 300 mm is acceptable. The ideal focal length is around 275 mm.
  • For cameras with 1” sensors, a lens capable of 200 mm is acceptable.
  • Solar filter
  • #2 screw driver
  • Fully charged camera battery packs
  • Fully charged battery packs with USB micro-b connector or 5.5mm barrel connector with center pole positive for the DSLR mount.
  • Battery pack should supply 5V and 4A
  • Battery should be rated at least 2.68 Ah (26800 mAh).
  • Extension cords (if not using batteries and are close to an electrical outlet)
  • Water bottle filled with water (16 or 20 oz) or counterweight mass
  • EM2024 DSLR mount1 (weight limit of 3 lbs) or your own mount.
  • Brand new white t-shirt with no color variation.
  • Electric tape
  • Rubber band(s)

If using N.I.N.A. or similar program:

  • Suitable laptop with enough resources for bracketed exposure collection
  • USB cable to connect camera to laptop (at least 6 to 8 feet in length)

Optional Items

  • Sandbags (to weigh down tripod)
  • Clamps
  • Gaffer tape

For instructions on how to assemble your 3-D printed EM2024 mount with supportive images, refer to the Eclipse Megamovie Photography Guide.

Using your camera with N.I.N.A. or similar software will require connecting the camera to a laptop using the manufacturer’s supplied USB cable and setting the camera to full manual or bulb control. Refer to the users manual for detailed instructions on camera manual control settings; settings should include disabling autofocus, manual aperture, and manual shutter speed. Install the camera’s driver software in accordance with the user manual. Most cameras will come with a USB cable. In case the USB cable is too short, either purchase a longer USB cable or a USB extension cable. The maximum cable length should not be longer than 15 feet.

If the camera does not have a “Live View” LCD screen on the rear of the body, computer software can be used to provide a live view when adjusting and centering the sensor frame on the sun. The easiest software package to use on the PC is DigiCamControl. It is an open-source free piece of software that can be downloaded and installed on your Windows PC to provide various functions to control your camera including “Live View.” Choose the “Stable Version” to use. To verify if your camera is supported please click here.

A warning: Some cameras require adjustment to the power saving features. If possible adjust the timing to the longest possible duration. This is true for TTL (Through The Lens) cameras with a mirror that flips up. When the camera flips the mirror back down, the software is disconnected. Should this occur, exit the software, unplug the USB cable and reinsert it back into the USB port, wait for Windows to acknowledge the camera’s reconnection, and restart the Software. Download and install the DigiCamControl software as per documentation provided online. Once installed, plug in the camera to the computer via USB cable. Start the DigiCamControl software. The camera should be listed and its parameters shown in the application to the left side of the window. If the camera is not shown, make sure camera drivers are installed, check cables, ensure the laptop recognizes the camera, and refer to the user’s guide for troubleshooting steps. To enable live view, look for a circular button with a “LV'' in it. When “Live View” is activated and the camera has a mirror, the mirror will flip up making an audible sound and a “Live View” window will open up. The camera’s sensor is read in near real-time and displayed on the screen. Mirrorless cameras will open the “Live View” window directly. Adjustments can now be made allowing the photographer to center the sun in the frame.

If you know that you will have reliable internet on the day of the eclipse, there are several good astronomy Apps which you can use to point to the daytime sky and find the star Polaris (hidden by the scattered sunlight in our atmosphere). Point your mount towards Polaris (“true” north). If you know you will be stationed in one place for several days, you can use the hands-on activity located on page 10 of the Eclipse Megamovie Photography Guide to find true north, and learn a bit more about sundials.

Instructions can be found beginning on Page 11 of the Eclipse Megamovie 2024 Photography Guide.

Begin by setting the camera lens to its most wide angle setting. Make sure the DSLR mount is connected to a power source; either use a battery pack or supplied power supply. Do a rough slew of the camera using the slew switch in the direction of the sun. Adjust the declination of the camera so that you can see the sun in the live view frame using the supplied joint or your own camera ball head.

TIP: it might be helpful to have a partner to help hold the camera in position while using a #2 screw driver and tightening the wing nut to secure if you are using the supplied joint.

Adjust declination and slew until the sun is centered in the live view; it should appear as a small dot on the screen. Once centered, adjust the wide angle lens zooming in on the sun. Re-center if necessary by doing slight adjustments using the pan handle to center the sun in the frame; should be elevation adjustments. Continue procedure until the camera zoom lens is set to its maximum zoom; Use the table below to determine zoom:

  • For full frame cameras (sensor size 36 mm x 24 mm), a lens with zoom capabilities from 300 mm to 600 mm is acceptable. The ideal focal length is 500mm.
  • For APS-C cameras (approx sensor size 25.1 mm x 16.7 mm), a lens with zoom capabilities from 270 mm to 400 mm is acceptable. The ideal focal length is 300 mm.
  • For micro 4/3 cameras (approx sensor size 17.3 mm x 13 mm), a lens with zoom capabilities from 250 mm to 300 mm is acceptable. The ideal focal length is around 275 mm.
  • For cameras with 1” sensors, a lens capable of 200 mm is acceptable. When doing minor elevation adjustments using the pan handle, avoid major left and right adjustments as much as possible. Adjustments of the pan head may change the angle of rotation of the DSLR mount and the sun may not remain centered in the frame during the 4 minutes of shooting. As is, there may be some drift of the sun in the frame occurring due to any inaccuracies pointing of the mount’s axis of rotation to the geographic north position.

TIP: Sometimes the slew button can only do rough adjustments. To make finer adjustments, unplug the DSLR mount from its power source and make slight adjustments by turning the gear by hand. Once adjusted, plug-in the power to continue the tracking

Yes! There are a few other options that we have gathered information on in our Photography Guide. The table begins on Page 12 and ends on Page 13.

Refer to the Eclipse Megamovie Photography Guide beginning on Page 13. There are detailed instructions with supporting images to walk you through setup and photography.

If using N.I.N.A, download the EM2024 (0.2-4 radii) DARK file and either of the Bright (outdoors daylight) or Dim (indoors or outdoors pre-dawn) flat files for N.I.N.A that will run your flat or dark frame sequences. The process for creating flats and darks with N.I.N.A. is laid out in great detail in the Eclipse Megamovie 2024 Photography Guide, beginning on Page 27. The process for creating Darks is discussed beginning on Page 30.

For those of you setting up your own sequence, make sure to take a minimum of 12 photographs at each step. These can be found on the EM2024 website under Resources filtered by STAR. If you are experienced and know how to use the histogram feature on your camera to identify the 50% middle bell curve in the graph, please take 20 or more flat images. The process for creating flats and darks is laid out in great detail in the Eclipse Megamovie 2024 Photography Guide, beginning on Page 27. The process for creating Darks is discussed beginning on Page 30.

The camera histogram can tell you whether your photo is underexposed, or overexposed, and how much contrast it has.

Instructions and tips for photographing the eclipse on April 8 can be found in the Eclipse Megamovie 2024 Photography Guide on Page 31. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Your camera should accurately reflect the time of day to within a second.
  2. Additionally, before photography commences, record geographic latitude and longitude either as image metadata (EXIF) or take a photo of an phone app or record readings from a GPS device with that information for later submission at the time of upload.
  3. For the darks, you will need to measure and record the ambient temperature. One simple way to do this is to use the GLOBE observer eclipse app found here. Using this app helps earth scientists gather temperature data in the path of totality.
  4. Do your sensor cleaning before any shooting.
  5. Leave your solar filter on until just before totality. You should not photograph the eclipse with your solar filter on.

If your camera has built-in bracketing, try taking 5 images as many times as possible during totality at 2 or 1.5 stops apart. This might look like: (1s, 1/4s, 1/15s, 1/60s, 1/125s) or for 1.5 stops apart (1s, 0.3s, 1/8s, 1/20s, 1/60s), depending on your camera.

Still have questions?

Feel free to write to the Megamovie Team Coordinators at the Sonoma State University EdEon STEM Learning Department:

See the Basic Photo Team Setup or the Advanced Photo Team Setup for detailed information about taking images of totality.