April 11, 2024

My experience of the April 2024 total solar eclipse and additional information about the photographs.

All pictures are displayed here.


The April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse is part of Saros cycle 139, a series of 71 solar eclipses occuring between May 17, 1501 and July 3, 2763. The eclipse can be seen from much of North America, and I was lucky enough to travel to see it. This page documents some of my experience and provide additional information about my photos of the eclipse.

Planning and traveling

I considered many destinations and means of travel to see totality. I originally wanted to go to Watertown, NY via a flight to Syracuse, but the cost was too much and later weather forecasts proved unfavorable.

I decided to drive in the end. Robert W and I left from Southern Georgia Saturday morning. We planned on driving to Muscatatuck NWR or Big Oaks NWR near Seymour, IN. On Sunday morning, due to a myriad of circumstances including the weather and a small hiccup with my car, we decided to continue driving on Interstate 64 WB after passing through Louisville, KY. That night, my plan was to see the eclipse somewhere within Hoosier NF, but I changed my mind the next morning and decided to venture deeper into the path of totality and go to either Shawnee NF or Crab Orchard NWR. We ended up going to Crab Orchard NWR and observing it there.

The trip back was uneventful, there was bad traffic on Interstate 24 SB between Paducah, KY and Nashville, but the rest was pretty smooth, even downtown Atlanta. Shoutout to Great Wall Supermarket for great beef noodles.

The entire tip was 1883.8 miles, or 10.11 light-milliseconds according to my car's tip meter.

Observing location

We observed the eclipse from the northern shore of the east side of Crab Orchard Lake just east of Illinois Route 148. The parking lot was meant for a Fish and Wildlife Service boat ramp, but there were lots of other fellow solar-eclipsers there. Our observing location is 37.7076 degrees north of the equator, 89.0211 degrees west of London, and 131 meters above sea level. The observing site is within West Marion, IL in Williamson County, and the land was owned by the US Department of the Interior.

The location sees 4 minutes and 9.6 seconds of totality and 2 hours 35 minutes and 7.3 seconds of partial eclipse. Partial eclipse begins at 12:43:13.2, totality begins at 13:59:28.1 and end at 14:03:37.7, partial eclipse ends at 15:18:20.5; all times are in Central Daylight Time.

4:09.6 of totality is about 0.9 seconds less than if we'd been on the maximum eclipse line for our latitude, and 19 seconds less than the maximum for all locations.

The observing location was just on the northern shore of the lake with a causeway carrying Route 148 to the west. The SmugMug gallery contains a picture of the view from the site.

The weather during observation was mostly clear. There were a few patches of clouds, including a thin patch during totality.

Observation and photography

We had some Thousand Oaks Optical solar film that we could've look at the sun through, but the Refuge office was handing out free Fish and Wildlife Service branded eclipse glasses, so we used those for observation with the naked eye.

Other than our eyes, I had two cameras.

The main imaging scope was a Nikon D5600 with a Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR attached to a Skywatcher Star Adventurer for tracking. The polar alignment was done by holding my phone's compass app (remember to set to true north) against the mount and setting the altitude to the latitude. The alignment was pretty rough and was probably off by a few degrees, but the tracking was good enough. Beside the camera and lens, I also used a timelapse remote to take pictures at set intervals and a jug of water for balance.

The secondary camera was a Canon EOS Rebel T6 attached to a Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II provided by my school's yearbook staff. I used it for wide shots; only two made it into the final gallery.

The sun was pretty active, the camera picked up some prominence around totality.


For most of eclipse, I had an 18 stop Tiffen solar filter on the main camera, and I exposed the pictures at F/8-11 1/200; during totality, I increased the exposure to a few seconds, with the brightest used picture being at F/11 1/3. Accounting for the filter and editing, the difference of exposures between the dimmest and brightest picture was 26 stops, or a 67 million times difference. SmugMug displays more detailed information for each image.

Processing and editing

I had an intervalometer set to a 2 minute interval for most of the eclipse, I ended up only processing pictures at 10 minute intervals for most of the partial stage and anything interesting for the near totality and totality. The editing was simple, I just increased the exposure slightly and applied a weak curve for more contrast. I also made very minor adjustments to the colors. The white balance of images with the solar filter was set to 12000K 1.000 and 6292K 1.000 for ones without filter; this was completely an arbituary artistic choice.

Gallery Description

Below is the description attached with the SmugMug gallery. All the information has been elorbrated on in this page

April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse. Observed from the path of totality in Crab Orchard NWR in West Marion, IL at 37.7076 N, 89.0211 W, 131m, which sees 4:09.6 of totality and 2:35:07.3 of eclipse. The site was along Illinois Route 148 northeast of its Crab Orchard Lake crossing. Partial begins 12:43:13.2 CDT, totality begins at 13:59:28.1 CDT, totality ends at 14:03:37.7 CDT, partial ends at 15:18:20.5 CDT (USNO calculator). The timestamp of the camera is ahead by 59:25. Special thanks to Robert Wray for his help. The final images are white balanced at 12000K 1.000 (filter used) or 6292K 1.000 (filter not used). The filter was a Tiffen 18 stop solar ND. The exposure range between the images is maximally 26 stops, or a 67 million times difference.

Again, here is a link to the gallery, you are required to view it if you have read this far without doing so.

Personal thoughts

This is the first time I saw a solar eclipse on the path of totality, I definitely think it is one of the coolest things I've seen. The changes in nature is not just the sun: the temperature decreased significantly, the wind speed increased, I even saw a confused bald eagle. I met some very nice and interesting people on the trip. I would recommend everyone to see future ones if they can.

I have already have some cool picture ideas future eclipses; I guess I'll wait.

Again, it is a special moment and probably one of the coolest 249.6 seconds of my life. Also, congratulations to the Georgia Tech couple who got engaged during the eclipse. Corinne Hill was my high school's valedictorian in 2021 and I'm also attending Georgia Tech, which is pretty cool. I would totally copy them but I would probably be too old for the August 12, 2045 one; maybe March 30, 2033 on the Dalton Highway or Gates of the Arctic NP?