Slight Detour to Nashville

I haven't made much progress on the HAPP project during the last few weeks, and intentionally so: I decided to road trip from Michigan to Nashville and witness the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017.

Although I wasn't able to get the HAPP in the air for the eclipse (how awesome would it have been to capture 360 video of an eclipse from high above the stratosphere!) I did manage to bring a telescope and my camera gear. The result is the following 4K time lapse video. It runs at 450X speed and compresses a 3-hour event into less than 30 seconds.

The road trip only took a few days but it took a couple of weeks to process the video. Due to thermals in the hot summer air, the images jitter and pulsate from frame to frame. The effect was bad enough that I couldn't run automatic stabilization on the video in post processing. Instead I had the pleasure of aligning almost 800 frames of video by hand. Not for the faint of heart!

Even after hand-centering the frames, the picture still warps and magnifies unevenly. Interestingly, the image gets more stable leading up to and immediately following the totality phase. This is because the air became noticeably cooler and still as the light of the sun diminished.

Hope you enjoy the video.


Here are a couple of nice stills. In the first image you can see mountains on the rim of the moon behind the bright "Bailey's Beads" on the left hand side and also some solar flares peeking out on the right.

Bailey's Beads, solar flares, and mountains on the moon.  ©  2017 Christopher Couch

Bailey's Beads, solar flares, and mountains on the moon. © 2017 Christopher Couch

Sunspots and clouds.  ©  2017 Christopher Couch

Sunspots and clouds. © 2017 Christopher Couch

Collage showing phases of the eclipse, clockwise from the top. Moment of totality and coronal highlights shown in the center. © 2017 Christopher Couch