Obtaining solar eclipse and planetary transit contact times using DSLR imaging

Accurate timings of eclipses and planetary transits were very common in the scientific literature of the past.  Such painstaking work was once invaluable in refining our knowledge of the lunar and terrestrial orbits, but today there is much less interest in these kind of measurements as new techniques have emerged. Nonetheless, eclipses continue to be timed with great accuracy at the Colle Leone Astronomical Observatory in Italy (MPC observatory code C96), in order to obtain exact times of contacts and event maxima. Such timing determinations were, for example, made during the 2015 March 20 solar eclipse, which was partial from our observing station.

Increasingly, DSLR cameras are used to record eclipses. We have therefore developed a simple method, mainly for educational purposes, to determine the eclipse times of contact from an accurately timed sequence of DSLR images, which we shall describe in this paper.

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