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Composite eclipse photo
This week’s solar eclipse progresses through totality in a composite image from Madras, Ore. (NASA Photo / Aubrey Gemignani)

This week’s total solar eclipse ranked among history’s most widely documented celestial events, thanks to streaming video and social media. NASA and its media partners announced today that 12.1 million unique viewers watched the spectacle via’s live stream, and millions more saw it by other means – including their own cameras and their own eyes.

Most of the pictures focused on the blacked-out sun and the delicate corona surrounding the disk, but there were lots of other perspectives on the first coast-to-coast, all-American total eclipse to take place in 99 years. Here are five of my faves:

Ground-level totality

So many skywatchers focused their telephoto lenses on a tiny bit of the sky for a close-up of the eclipse, but Tierney O’Dea Booker went wide-angle, capturing a view of how things looked at Oregon Solarfest’s Solartown campgrounds just north of Madras. Booker’s conversation with her star-struck child just adds to the video experience, shared on Facebook.

Looking down from drones

Yes, there were drones in the air during the solar eclipse. I heard them buzz over my Madras campground during the partial phase, but for some reason I didn’t hear a thing during totality. Too awestruck, I guess. Microsoft software design engineer Jonathan Fay captured a drone’s-eye view of totality from Ochoco National Forest in Oregon, and put together a video titled “Under the Shadow of the Moon.” Olympia teen Cale Matheson did something similar over Illahe Hills in Salem, Ore. The drone-based documentation reveals the subtleties of the sunlight’s disappearance, and reappearance after totality.

Time-lapse trickery

A composite image shows the progression of the solar eclipse from partial to total and back to partial again, as seen from the summit of Bald Mountain at the Sun Valley ski resort in Idaho. (Kevin Lisota Photo)

Video does a good job of showing the progression of a solar eclipse through totality and back, but time-lapse composite photos give you the full picture in a single glance. GeekWire’s Kevin Lisota put together all the phases of the eclipse in a multiple-exposure photo from Sun Valley, Idaho. (He also shot video, of course.) Seasoned launch photographer Ben Cooper produced a beautiful picture using a similar technique at Wyoming’s Green River Lake. NASA photographer Bill Ingalls traveled to the North Cascades to document the partial eclipse at Ross Lake, And NASA’s Aubrey Gemignani contributed a scene-setting composite as well as an 11-image sequence of close-ups in Madras.

The panoramic view

Eclipse with Tetons
Alan Radecki’s panoramic photo of the total solar eclipse includes the sweep of the Grand Tetons for context. (Alan Radecki via Facebook)

California-based photographer Alan Radecki traveled to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming for his eclipse views, but he wasn’t interested in a generic picture of totality. “Close-up eclipse photos all look pretty much the same, can’t tell whether they were shot in Oregon, Wyoming or South Carolina,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “My real goal was to get a Tetons context shot, and this panorama was the result.”

Being in the right place at the right time

One of the most memorable pictures of the total eclipse came from Smith Rock State Park in Oregon, where photographer Ted Hesser framed a rock climber within the circle of the blacked-out sun’s corona. This was no spur-of-the-moment happenstance: In his Instagram post, Hesser said “it took four days of planning and hard work to capture this shot.” Hesser said his girlfriend and another climbing buddy had to climb the route twice in scorching heat to nail the proper positioning for the photo. Hesser had help from corporate sponsors, including Columbia Sportswear and Goal Zero. Get the story behind the shot in this YouTube video.

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