Solar Eclipse and Airplane transit

The partial solar eclipse on October 25th happened conveniently during lunch break, and the skies were perfectly clear. I opted for the big refractor (Astro-Physics 127mm f/8) combined with a 2x Nikon teleconverter in the hope to capture some detail in the form of sunspots on the solar disc.

I setup the camera to record a set of timelapse images, taking a picture every 20s. After I while I also setup the 60mm refractor to be able to observe the eclipse visually.

Shortly after maximum eclipse I noticed an airplane with contrail heading to the area of the sky where the sun was located. From past experience I thought that it will miss the sun (the apparent diameter of the sund and moon in the sky is only about half a thumb’s width at arm-length), but switched the camera to video and started recording.

Looking through the 60mm refractor I was not sure if the plane already had passed, so I looked up to see if the contrail was already on the other side of the sun, but with the sun’s glare I couldn’t see it. So I continued to watch and when suddenly the plane crossed the solar disc right in the middle I was very pleasantly surprised.

For the individual exposures I used 1/1600s, ISO125, Baader Solar Filter ND3.8, Astro-Physics 127mm with Nikon TC-EIII 2x teleconverter.

Entrance sequence

The hot exhaust creates differential refraction making the differences in air temperature visible against the solar discs edge.

Exit Sequence

I think the bow wave of compressed air in front of the plane can also be seen in the sequence below.


The image made quite an impression, when I posted it on social media:

Here is some of the media coverage: