Lovers of astronomy are in for a delight. You must be familiar with the fact that the United Stated experienced its first major solar eclipse in 38 years just the last month. NASA came up with an impressive interactive map that portrayed the line of totality with the time of beginning, blackout and ending of the solar eclipse.
Dronies flock to the forums
Inherently, drone pilots asked number of queries at various online forums soliciting suggestions as to how capture this once-in-a-life event from the air. There are a few restrictions including the fact that majority of the commercial drones are incorporated with a fixed-width, wide angle lens that tends to minimize the sun or a moon to a little speck. It is still befitting how to exploit the effects created by the solar eclipse for some stunning aerial video footage.
Equip yourself with the right gear
Ensuring that the configuration of your drone’s camera is perfect is only a little part of the process. If you want to capture the solar eclipse properly, you need to equip yourself with the right paraphernalia. You should get ready for meeting up with large crowds, unreliable weather, poor cell phone connectivity and deficiency of all the basic necessities including gasoline for your car, as you set out on your journey totality.
I have travelled a lot to the rustic landscapes with my drone. Here are some of the tips and tricks that will ensure that you are able to document the solar eclipse with your drone in all its awe and splendor.
Get your optics right
Firstly, you will be in need of top quality solar eclipse goggles. When I say top quality, this is so because there is such a huge range of glasses available on the market but there are only a few manufacturers who comply with the proper ISO 12312-2 Safety Standard. If you ogle at the sun only for a few fleeting moments, your retinas will get burnt and cause irreversible damage. A top quality pair of goggles might seem to be rather idiotic and they will be expensive to boot. But they will mitigate the sun’s brightness by a factor of 500,000. They block out almost 100,000 times more light as compared to conventional glasses offering 100% protection from Ultraviolet radiation. So, I implore you to acquire the 3D looking version and protect your eyesight from permanent damage.
If you are a resident of the West Coast or have travelled to that part of the country, you could endeavor to make the totality the main emphasis of your video footage. As discussed above, most of the commercial drones are loaded with cameras sporting fixed-width, wide angle lens.
Get prepared for all eventualities
While you are on your way to capturing the total solar eclipse, you could end up in areas marred by severed heat. Ensure that your car has the requisite amount of coolant and the air conditioning is working properly. Handheld mobile devices especially iPads tend to get heated during flights and placing it in front of your car’s vents can have the reverse effects. You should have at least one gallon, per person, per day of water with you for drinking and some additional water for cooking and bathing purposes.
Sunscreen is a must. Having said that, most of the drone pilots I am familiar with, take it up a notch and either put on protective gear such as this or bandanas over their nose and mouth for assured protection against the sun. The Transmitter is handy if it is rainy and cold, which is a possibility in the Midwest. I would not recommend you to fly your drone while it is raining since water-damage can have detrimental effects on your drone but considering the fact that this is a once in a generation event, so some people might be ready to take that risk.
Keep a tent or a tarp for shelter. In such over-crowded situations, the motels could prove to be extremely expensive. So, it would be judicious for you to keep all the gear necessary for your boarding and lodging. Traffic jams can disrupt your schedules. Gas stations in the surroundings could run out of fuel. So, while travelling, ensure that you do not let the fuel gauge fall below the half-tank mark. Keep this tip in mind while travelling to the rustic landscapes as well.
Map your travels well and keep the communications open
Of course, you should be regularly checking AirMap, SkyVector and local ordinances before deciding where you are going to takeoff from for that elusive footage. Remember that it is not safe to fly over crowds so you should have at least a couple of substitute locations in mind. Ensure that you do not trespass private property. Owing to the fact that there are going to a huge number of people around trying to view the total solar eclipse, so the cellular lines will be chocked. Here is a handy guide for building an offline map. If you have the appetite for adventure, you may as well pick up a copy of Rand McNally guide.
You need to keep with yourself a set of walkie-talkies or two way radios (these require FCC license), to ensure that all lines of communication remain open with friends and companions. If you want to stick to smartphones, remember to keep backup battery packs with you.
The Bottom Line
I suggest you to capture the line of totality’s shadow across the landscape. I hope when you set out, the weather remains nice and warm and any possible clouds clear up. What supplies do you recommend to carry with oneself on such an adventure? If I missed something, let me know in the comments section!