Solar Eclipse Timer
A must-have app to enhance your solar eclipse experience is the Solar Eclipse Timer from Gordon Telepun. Like a voice coming over your shoulder, Telepun announces what to look for at key moments during Eclipse Day.
The spectacles come in quick succession especially as totality approaches, and without the app (available from App Store and Google Play) you can miss several natural phenomena that may occur for only a few seconds in your lifetime. Being an eclipse chaser, Telepun shares observing priorities learned from personal experience.
While the app is free, you purchase a data set ($1.99) for the respective eclipse you'll be viewing. If you're going to spend any money to see the solar spectacle of a lifetime, commit two bucks to the Solar Eclipse Timer app.
Telepun has also created a book detailing the features to be announced, available in digital format ($9.99) and as a spiral bound print version ($49.99). He often reminds you to observe away from the sun, too, to find the approaching penumbra, the bizarre shadows of varying focus, shadow bands, and the Purkinje effect. Who knew? Well, actually, Telepun knows. And he sincerely aims to be your go-to reference for Eclipse Day.
But wait, there's more! Over the years Telepun has a compiled a fabulous collection of free videos on the Solar Eclipse Timer YouTube channel. With extensive graphics, video clips, experiment results, photos, and supporting material, he presents individual topics in a measured pace. Especially if you are leading a group of fellow observers, I recommend you delve deep into some of these videos. Don't be intimidated by any of the graphs or data-intensive visuals, for he succinctly guides you through their meaning.
Some of his observing tips are basic but elegant in their simplicity. For example, to amplify the Purkinje effect, in which colors take on an odd hue on either side of totality, have the people in your group wear red and green clothes. Let's not forget, both the advice like this and the excellent videos are free.
Photographers in particular will appreciate the guidelines he offers to get the most out of a visually intensive event. While Telepun goes deep into some aspects of solar photography, it's not an app/book/website/video collection dedicated to photography. He is supportive of both newcomers and veteran photographers alike. Another plus, not only does he explain what works, but he also shows some of his failures where it furthers the instruction.
For each successive eclipse Telepun seems to bring more equipment not just to get a spectacular photo; rather, he aligns gear with intent to better understand a phenomenon. I like how he's willing to offer alternative explanations after describing the current scientific consensus about things like the cause of shadow bands. When he wanted to discern the implications of limb darkening and its contribution to visual weirdness, for an ensuing eclipse he set up a light meter to get supporting data.
I borrowed and adapted some of Telepun's material for Eclipse Blitz, my presentation to the Michiana Astronomical Society about solar eclipse activities and unique happenings to anticipate on Eclipse Day. Many thanks for supporting science education, Dr. Telepun.
Again, I highly recommend you delve into Solar Eclipse Timer, an essential tool, so you'll be prepared and relaxed on the big day. While you want to capture all the day has to offer, don't be distracted from absorbing the awe of the moment. The visceral experience is what matters most, and it may be possible only a few minutes of your entire lifetime.