Astrophotographer Uses 2,000 Images To Create 8K Time-Lapse of “Ring of Fire” Eclipse

Ring of Fire Eclipse - Jason Kurth

Astrophotographer Jason Kurth loves a challenge, so much so that he decided to do what it took to put together the most detailed “ring of fire” timelapse ever produced. To make it happen, he spent more than a year planning, purchased a new computer, and hauled 200 pounds of equipment across the United States. The result is a stunning 8K timelapse made up of almost 2,000 images.

While Kurth had previous experience making solar timelapses, he'd never had the opportunity to image an annular solar eclipse. Also known as a “ring of fire” eclipse, October 2023 was the first time in nearly two years that the rare phenomenon had occurred. And once Kurth had the date on the calendar, he knew that this was his moment.

“I started making these solar timelapses [and] I knew that I wanted to eventually make one during an eclipse to show the movement of the solar chromosphere and the detail in solar prominences as the Moon eclipsed the Sun,” he tells My Modern Met. “Solar eclipses are exciting and rare events, and with my passion for astrophotography, I wanted to do something special for it. Capturing it in so much detail with a hydrogen solar telescope for a full timelapse would be the ultimate way to do it.”

Kurth, who is based in Florida, flew to Utah with 200 pounds of camera equipment, including a custom double-stacked hydrogen alpha solar telescope and a monochrome camera that can capture the solar chromosphere in ultra-high resolution. Moving so much equipment was a logistical challenge, and there was always the risk that the weather wouldn't cooperate.

Camera Setup for Ring of Fire Eclipse - Jason Kurth

Luckily, for the duration of the three-hour event, everything went smoothly, and, in the end, Kurth shot over 200,000 photos. From there, the biggest challenge was processing the enormous amount of data and working in post-processing to make the timelapse as smooth and clear as possible.

“Over four terabytes of data were gathered and processed, and this project required a newly built 24-core workstation with 192 gigabytes of RAM to handle processing the data,” shared Kurth. “I don’t believe any annular eclipse has been captured in this much detail before.”

And Kurth may be correct. Logging in at just under two minutes, the timelapse is a glorious look at this special event. While the Sun appears to stand still, a close look shows the whirling, swirling chromosphere. Solar flares and prominences slowly shoot up and dance as the looming darkness of the Moon slowly passes across the Sun.

Of course, everything culminates in the “ring of fire” created when the Moon is directly in front of the Sun. At this moment, we see just a gold band sparking in the sky. Then, the Moon continues on its path, slowly revealing the giant star once again. Thanks to Kurth's dedication and hard work, anyone can revel in the wonder of this event.

Astrophotographer Jason Kurth created an incredible 8K timelapse of October's “Ring of Fire” eclipse.

He used nearly 2,000 images to put together this detailed look at the rare event.

Ring of Fire Eclipse - Jason Kurth

“I don’t believe any annular eclipse has been captured in this much detail before.”

Ring of Fire Eclipse - Jason Kurth

Jason Kurth: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Jason Kurth.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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