Rob's Photos of Libya 2006 Total Solar Eclipse

A lot of data was collected this time.  The phenomena associated with the sun span a vast range of brightnesses.  The eye can handle all of these, but film (or CCDs) can only look at a narrow range of brightnesses at a time. The images below were selected to best show the wide range of brightnesses and what can be seen at each range.

Most of the images below have been cropped.  10:37:36 is an example of a full frame image.  As you can see there was about 1 1/2 sun diameters at the top and bottom of the frames.

Click on the thumbnails below for large JPEG images.  There are also uncompressed images available in TIFF format. You can use either Photoshop or Office Picture Manager (OIS.EXE) to view the TIFF images. I recommend you stick to the JPEGs unless you have a high speed Internet connection.

Copyright Notice

The images linked below are copyrighted. 

Creative Commons License
Rob Hawley Libya 06 Eclipse by Robert J. Hawley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at

About the Indicated Times

Unfortunately I forgot to sync the camera clock with the GPS the morning of the eclipse. Thus the UTC times indicated below are a little off. Later tests though revealed they are close. Note that the camera clock only records times to the nearest second.  Thus even with a perfectly synced clock the recorded times may be off by as much as a second. The estimated times of 2nd and 3rd contact fall within the camera time intervals below.

About 30 seconds before totality the camera control scenario took frames as quickly as the camera would record them.  On the average this was slightly over 3 seconds per shot, but it was slightly longer when the ISO needed to be changed.

HDR Composite Image

One of the challenges of photographing a total solar eclipse is the vast range of brightnesses. As can be seen from the individual images below exposures varied from 1/2500 to 1/2 second or more than 3 orders of magnitude.  Strangely each of these exposures correctly exposed some portion of the eclipse.

Our eyes can operate on non-linear data so this vast range of brightnesses is not a challenge for them.  Computer displays only permit 256 levels of brightness for each color. Choose wisely.

What you would like to do is to find a way to represent the entire range of brightnesses in a single image on a computer screen (since that is how these are presented). An engineer from Adobe presented a method using Photoshop during the Black Sea trip in 1999.  I have also seen other's composite work, but everything I have seen in the past has looked artificial.  I wanted something that looked more like what you see visually.

PixInsight provides a number of tools so satisfy this goal. First it has a very sophisticated method of building a linear High Dynamic Range Image which contains the entire range of the image all properly scaled.  From this starting point PixInsight allows you to stretch the data in several ways.  I found a logarithmic stretch was exactly what I needed. This is as close to what I saw in the eyepiece as I have ever seen.

The breaks in the image were due to the longer exposures being taken later in the eclipse.  Since everything is moving Pixi was not able to line the parts of the image perfectly. I confess to doing some cosmetic work with Photoshop.

10:07:11 UTC  Partial Eclipse

1/640 @ ISO 100

10-07-11This image of the partial eclipse was taken about 36 minutes before second contact. Note the sunspots.


10:35:40 UTC ( 4 seconds before 2nd Contact)

1/1250 @ ISO 100

This view taken seconds before second contact shows several large prominences.  The last remaining visible edge of the sun forms a "diamond ring".

2nd contact was estimated to occur at 10:35:44.


10:35:43 UTC (within second of 2nd contact)

1/320 @ ISO 100
10-35-43This view showing the inner corona was taken just before 2nd contact. The last beads of the brightest part of the sun are still visible.

The prominences that are easily seen in 10:35:50 are mostly washed out due to their brightness.  This frame starts showing the very complex corona structure.  Note particularly on the left side of the sun.  Other corona shots will develop this further.


10:35:50 UTC Prominences

1/2500 @ ISO 100

10-35-50This frame shows is a better exposure of the prominences than 10-35-43.


10:36:19 UTC Inner Corona

1/250 @ ISO 100

10-36-19This shot shows more detail in the inner corona and is a better exposure than the 1/320 above.  Note the fine structure at the top and bottom of the sun.


10:36:26 UTC

1/80 @ ISO 100

10-36-26As the eclipse progressed slower images were taken.  This image at 1/80 shows more detail in the inner corona, but the corona close to the sun shown in 10:36:19 is starting to become overexposed.

The beginnings of the streamers that were observed with the unaided eye are starting to appear on the top an bottom of the sun.  The deep magnetic lines on the sides are also becoming more obvious


10:36:44 UTC Outer Corona

1/20 @ ISO 200

10-36-44This image is starting to show the outer corona.  Two large streamers at 10'o'clock and at 8'o'clock are now becoming more definite.  A smaller streamer at 2'o'clock is also becoming visible.

The magnetic lines at the sides of the sun are starting to become overexposed.


10:37:36 UTC

1/10 @ ISO 400

10-37-36This final full frame shot of the corona shows its extent.  In slower images the structure was overexposed. The streamers from the previous frame and several other dimmer ones are now well defined.  The asymmetric shape between the sides and the top and bottom that gave the bow tie appearance with the unaided eye is now visible.

I estimate that the streamers extended about 1 1/2 sun diameters.

Warning (48 Meg)

10:37:44 UTC Earthshine

1/5 @ ISO 1600

10-37-44This is the slowest image taken near the time of max totality. This image is cropped so only the moon is showing. The rest of the frame is over exposed corona.  This frame did not show the corona extending more than the 10:37:36 shot.

Earthshine on the moon is apparent in this image.


10:38:59  UTC Prominences on Other Side of Sun

1/1250 @ ISO 100

As 3rd contact approached prominences on the opposite side of the sun started appearing.  Here they are just peaking out over the lip of the retreating moon.


10:39:32 UTC

1/2500 @ ISO 100

As 3rd contact approached a ring of fire appeared across the side of the moon.  Note the detail in the dimmer ones at the top of the sun. This was near the time I stopped looking through the camera and just used used my eyes again.


10:36:46  UTC After 3rd contact

1/1250 @ ISO 100

10-36-46This image was taken a couple of seconds after third contact.  The 10:36:42 image showed some evidence of brightening.

In this image a distinct bead is visible to the left of the main image of the appearing sun.  The prominences are also visible.


Copyright © 2006, 2012, 2016 Robert J. Hawley Some Rights Reserved.
rjh 11/3/16