Welcome to the website of Michel, Madeleine, Cédric, Antoine and Elie Willemin

This website is mainly dedicated to astronomy, covering the solar and planetary observations to the deep-sky photography. There are also some sections treating some effects linked to the Earth atmosphere, like lightnings and rainbows. All pictures have been taken by the author. In the case of download and further use, please simply mention the source. This page is temporarily devoted to our solar system including eclipses, to astrophotography without telescope, to the surprizing comets C/2023 P1 (Nishimura), C/2022 E3 (ZTF) and C/2020 F3 (Neowise), and to the famous solar eclipses of August 21, 2017 and April 8, 2024. Cycle 25 solar activity now offers large sunspots and impressive prominences!😊

Northern Lights and Solar Activity – May 10-11, 2024
Observed from Chasseral, Switzerland

Northern Lights – Canon EOS R5 + RF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM, ISO 10000, exp 3.2 to 4s, f/5 to f/6.3, 20:34‐22:54 UTC, May 10, 2024. Sunspots – Canon EOS R5 + EF 400mm f/5.6 L USM + Extender 1.4x III + Marumi filter (ND-100000), ISO 800, exp 238x 0.25ms, f/11, 12:18 UTC, May 10, 2024. Solar prominences in Hα – Lunt LS80THa/PT/B1800FT + Camera ZWO ASI294MM Pro (uncooled), gain 170, exp 50x 0.5ms, 13:43 UTC, May 11, 2024.

Great North American Eclipse – April 8, 2024
Observed from Hamilton, Texas
Extended Solar Corona at 18:39:00 UTC – Click on the image to discover more suns than the hidden one! – During this eclipse, the apparent diameter of the sun was 1915″, while that of the moon 2003″, or 4.6% more, allowing the totality.

The Eclipse, from Beginning to End – The phenomenon lasts in total 2 hours and 40 minutes. The totality occurs only during 3 minutes and 47 seconds in Hamilton, TX.
Start of partial eclipse (C1): 17:19 UTC, start of total eclispse (C2): 18:36:52 UTC, maximum eclipse: 18:38:45 UTC, end of total eclipse (C3): 18:40:39 UTC, end of partial eclipse (C4): 19:59 UTC.
Setup: Canon EOS R5 + EF 400mm f/5.6L USM + Extender 1.4x III. For all images: f/11, ISO 400. During the partial phases of the eclipse: Marumi EXUS ND100000 (5.0) and AstroSolar foil.

The Eclipse Totality – Between the second contact (C2) and the third (C3), the chromosphere of the sun becomes visible. With a little luck, depending on the solar activity, some prominences also become visible.
Short exposures of the order of 0.2ms to 1ms are recommended for catching the chomosphere and the prominences. For immortalizing the corona, larger exposures up to 1s are needed. The corona is only visible during totality.

Site Selection – The city of Hamilton, TX was chosen to maximize the chances of seeing the eclipse. The sky was fairly cloudy before and after the eclipse over the entire Texas area.

Sun, Moon and Jupiter through the 6-inch Maksutov
First light for the camera ZWO ASI678MC and the solar filter Marumi EXUS ND100000

The Maksutov telescope SkyWatcher SkyMax150 is a good compromize for solar, lunar and planetary photography. The new Marumi EXUS ND100000 (5.0) provides a safe solution for solar imaging.
Setup: SkyWatcher SkyMax150 (1800mm, f/12) on HEQ5 Pro mount for all astro images. Image stacking with AutoStakkert! v3.1.4. First solar image: Canon EOS R5, Marumi EXUS ND100000, Exp 4x 1/250s, ISO 400. Time: 14:40 UTC. Second solar image: ZWO ASI678MC, Marumi EXUS ND100000, Exp 120x 1ms, Gain 240. Time: 14:10 UTC. First lunar image: Mare Crisium. ZWO ASI678MC, Exp 500x 2.5ms, Gain 240. Time: 17:39 UTC. Second lunar image: Lunar terminator close to the north pole. ZWO ASI678MC, Exp 290x 2.5ms, Gain 240. Time: 17:37 UTC. Jupiter image: ZWO ASI678MC, Exp 490x 1.7ms, Gain 324. Time: 18:18 UTC. February 13, 2024.

Collection of the 5 last Sunrises of the Year 2023
Visible from Prêles, Switzerland ‐ All are different! We wish you a happy and colorful 2024!

December 31, 2023, 7:14 UTC 7:22 UTC 7:49 UTC + Hoya ND16 7:58 UTC + Hoya ND16

December 30, 2023, 7:18 UTC + Hoya ND16 7:31 UTC + Hoya ND16 7:32 UTC + Hoya ND16 7:33 UTC + Hoya ND16

December 28, 2023, 6:53 UTC 6:55 UTC 7:28 UTC + Hoya ND400 7:31 UTC + Hoya ND400

December 27, 2023, 6:59 UTC 7:26 UTC + Hoya ND400 7:30 UTC + Hoya ND400 7:32 UTC + Hoya ND400

December 26, 2023, 7:04 UTC 7:20 UTC 7:32 UTC 7:33 UTC
This year, after Christmas, the weather conditions were particularly interesting to observe the sunrise. No less than 5 mornings, the colors of a blazing sky offered a particularly aesthetic spectacle. On some images, sunspots are even visible, and also a shy green flash. During those days, the sunrise occurs behind the famous Schreckhorn (4078m). The only morning too cloudy without sun was December 29, a sad gray.
Setup: Canon EOS R5 + RF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM + RF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM. For some pictures a neutral-density filter (grey filter) was very useful for reducing the sun light intensity. Hoya ND16 (4 f-stop reduction) and Hoya ND400 (8.7 f-stop reduction) are optimal for sunrise and sunset photography.

The Comet C/2023 P1 (Nishimura)
Magic sequence: Moonrise, followed by Nishimura Rise and later the day begins with a colored Sunrise
The long-period comet discovered by the Japanese amateur astronomer Hideo Nishimura on August 12, 2023 was immortalized from Chasseral (Switzerland) on September 9, 2023. Perihelion on September 17, 2023. Previous perihelion on July 1588. At that time, the English fleet was beating the Spanish fleet.
Setup: Canon EOS R5 + RF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM + EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM + EF 135mm f/2.0 L USM. First image: Transmitter of Chasseral with the Moon, Exp 5s, 24mm, f/4.5, ISO 6400. Time: 2:52 UTC. Second image: Comet Nishimura, Exp 4s, 70mm, f/2.8, ISO 6400. Time: 3:33 UTC. Main source of light pollution: The town of Solothurn, located at a distance of 37km. Third image: Comet Nishimura, Exp 1.6s, 135mm, f/2.2, ISO 4000. Time: 3:40 UTC. Fourth image: Sunrise, Exp 1/250s, 200mm, f/8, ISO 400. Time: 5:00 UTC. Few sunspots are visible on a high-resolution image taken few seconds before.

Winter Deep-Sky Objects
taken with a small APO refractor of 80mm
From left to right: The Cone Nebula (NGC 2264) and the Hubble's Variable Nebula (NGC 2261) in Monoceros. The Dark Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33) positioned in front of the Emissive Nebula IC434 in Orion. The Sombrero Galaxy (NGC 4594 or M104) in Virgo.
Images taken from Prêles (Switzerland) during the clear night of February 14 to 15, 2023. Setup: ZWO ASI294MM Pro (imager cooled down to -20°C) + SkyWatcher Esprit 80ED Super APO + Skywatcher HEQ5 Pro Mount + ZWO ASI462MC on SkyWatcher EvoGuide 50ED for autoguiding. For nebulae images, a 6nm bandwidth Astronomik Hα filter was used.

The Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF)
the surprize of early 2023
This long-period comet has been discovered at the Zwicky Transient Facility on March 2, 2022. The orbital period is about 50,000 years. The previous perihelion was observed by the Neanderthals, as long as the comet was bright enough, which is far from certain.
Images taken from Prêles (Switzerland) on January 21, 2023. Setup: Canon EOS R + RF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM + Skywatcher Star Adventurer Mount. Main image (center): Exp 20s, 200mm, f/2.8, ISO 2000. Time: 3:17 UTC. The green color is likely due to the presence of diatomic carbon. Source of the SKY MAP corresponding to that moment: Software Bisque, The Sky V. Source of the 3D simulation: The Sky LIVE.

Partial Solar Eclipse of October 25, 2022
observed from Chasseral (Bern, Switzerland)
Minimal configuration used to immortalize the partial solar eclipse. Up to 16% of the solar disc was occulted by the Moon.
Coordinates: 47° 07′ 24″ N, 7° 02′ 47″ E, elevation 1435m, corresponding to the center of the Parc Chasseral. Beginning of the eclipse at 9:16 UTC, maximum (16%) at 10:10 UTC, end at 11:05 UTC. Setup: Canon EOS M6 + EF 400mm f/5.6 L + Ext 2x III + filter Marumi DHG ND-100000. Equivalent focal length 800mm. Settings for the solar images: Exp 1/1600s, f/16, ISO 200. Time: 9:45 UTC and 10:26 UTC. Source of the map: Der Sternenhimmel 2022, Hans Roth. Das Jahrbuch für Amateurastronomen. Kosmos Verlag, 2021, ISBN 978-3-440-17084-7.

Typical Objects from the Summer Sky
Easy astrophotography without telescope during July 2022
The Andromeda Galaxy, the Milkyway at Moonrise and the Cygnus Region with the North America Nebula (NGC 7000)
All three pictures were taken from Prêles at an altitude of 820m in July 2022 with a minimal setup based on an SkyWatcher Adventurer mount, without autoguiding by Antoine & Michel Willemin. First image (M31): Cooled camera ZWO ASI294MM Pro + Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. Exp 15x 10s, 200mm, f/2.8, Gain 390, -19°C, July 25, 2022, UTC 0:00. At least two other galaxies are also visible: M110 & UGC394 of magnitude 8.92 & 15.12 respectively. Limit stellar magnitude is 16.0. Second image (Milkyway at Moonrise): Canon EOS R5 + Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM. Exp 10s, f/4.0, ISO 6400, July. 18, 2022, UTC 22:48. Single shot despite the presence of the Moon, without tracking. Third image (NGC 7000): Cooled camera ZWO ASI294MM Pro + Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM + Filter Astronomik Hα, 12nm bandwidth. Exp 17x 30s, 70mm, f/2.8, Gain 390, -19°C, July 25, 2022, UTC 0:39. Field of view: 15.3°x10.6°. Click here for a better-resolution and logo-free image.

June 2022 Planets Alignment
5 planets captured in a single photograph
Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune well aligned. Mercury and Uranus are swallowed by the lights of dawn.
Pictures taken from Prêles (Switzerland) on June 12, 2022. On a single exposure and without using extreme image processing, it is challenge to immortalized simultaneously bright and faint planets. Venus has a apparent magnitude of -3.9, Mars +0.6, Jupiter -2.4, Saturn 0.7 and Neptune +7.9. According to the Pogson's law, the brightness ratio between Venus and Neptune is exceeding 50'000x. At that time, Venus was only 1.3° above the horizon. Click here for a label-free image.

May 2022 Lunar Eclipse at Moonset
Partial phase through a telephoto lens
The total phase of this exceptional lunar eclipse was unfortunately not visible from Switzerland due to the lights of dawn.
Pictures taken from Prêles (Switzerland) on May 16, 2022. Setup: Canon EOS R + Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. First image: Exp 1/1250s, 200mm, f/5.6. Second: Exp 0.5s, 200mm, f/6.3. Third: Exp 4s, 145mm, f/8. Fourth: Exp 2s, 200mm, f/8. Fifth: Exp 2s, 200mm, f/8, about 10 minutes before totality, which was rendered invisible from Prêles due to the sunrise. All at ISO 2000. This event has been referred to by some media as a « super flower blood moon », but this is not a scientifically-recognized term.
Press clipping: Journal du Jura, edition of May 17, 2022.

Typical Objects from the Winter Sky
Easy astrophotography without telescope
The Whirlpool Galaxy, the Rosette and the Horsehead Nebulae immortalized through a telephoto lens
All three pictures were taken from Prêles at an altitude of 820m on February 27-28, 2022. Setup: Cooled camera ZWO ASI294MM Pro + Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM + Filter Astronomik Hα, 12nm bandwidth for nebulae images. First image (M51): Exp 20x 5s, 200mm, f/2.8, Feb. 28, UTC 22:08. Second image (NGC2237): Exp 10x 60s, 200mm, f/2.8, Feb. 28, UTC 21:52. Third image (IC434): Exp 5x 120s, 200mm, f/2.8, Feb. 27, UTC 19:33. Wide-field image of the Orion region including the emission nebula Barnard's loop.
How to properly fit a conventional cooled camera to a Canon optics or other photo lens: Document written in French

The Swiss Plateau and the Alps at night
From Chasseral (BE, Switzerland) on November 20, 2021
Orion dominates the sky towards the Southeast
All three pictures were immortalized on November 20, 2021 from Chasseral at an altitude of 1607m. The Moon illuminates the stratus of the Swiss Plateau and the Alps. Setup: Canon EOS R + Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. First image: Exp 5s, 24mm, f/5.6, ISO 5000, UTC 22:26. Second image: Exp 6s, 24mm, f/6.3, ISO 5000, UTC 22:52. Third image: Exp 5s, 24mm, f/6.3, ISO 5000, UTC 23:32.
Press clipping: Journal du Jura of November 23, 2021. The pictures could perfectly fit your PC desktop. Fell free to download them.

Our Solar System on October 24, 2021

Saturn, Jupiter and the Sun through a small and old 80mm achromatic refractor
Our Sun and the two giant planets were immortalized on October 24, 2021 from Prêles (BE), Switzerland. In comparison, the small dot representing Earth has been added. Basic setup: Vixen 80M (910mm, f/11) + ZWO ASI462MC camera. For the solar image with zoom on the sunspot group AR 2887 taken at UTC 13:50: Herschel Wedge Baader, ND 0.9 ‐ Exp 30x 32µs, Gain 90 ‐ AutoStakkert! 3.1.4 for image stacking. For Jupiter (UTC 17:50 ‐ Exp 50x 80ms, Gain 106) and Saturn (UTC 20:03 ‐ Exp 500x 100ms, Gain 270): Barlow lens TeleVue 2.5x Powermate ‐ RegiStax 6.0 for image stacking and processing.

The sky during summer 2021 observed from Switzerland
The fun of astrophotography without a telescope

The Milky Way and several Messier objects immortalized through a wide angle and a telephoto lens
All these photographs were taken on the night of July 11 to 12, 2021 from Prêles (BE), Switzerland. The two main disturbances limiting image quality are the light pollution and the growing number of artificial satellites. The relatively small city of Biel was illuminating the sky in the east till an altitude of about 45° (top right). Satellites on low Earth orbits (LEO, i.e. below 2000km) are almost everywhere in the dark sky. On a wide field image (bottom left), it becomes almost impossible to get rid of traces of satellites. Taken into account those disturbances, getting a clean wide field photograph of the center of our Galaxy remains a challenge from Switzerland. Click here for a better-resolution and logo-free image.

NEOWISE, the astronomical event of the summer 2020
Comet on July 11

The Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) from Chasseral (BE), Switzerland
Setup: Canon EOS R + 135mm f/2.0 L USM, Settings: Exp 1.6 s, f/2.2, ISO 6400, Time: July 11, 2020, UTC 21:21 The largest source of light pollution is emitted by the cities of Montbéliard and Audincourt (France), located at 45km. On the bottom right corner, the village of Saignelégier (JU), Switzerland, is clearly visible at a distance of 15km. As foreground, the multiple red dots at the bottom of the image are wind turbine beacons.
Press clipping: Journal du Jura of July 14, 2020. Le Franc-Montagnard and Le Matin of July 15, 2020.

Comet on July 18 observed by the Great Team

The Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) from Chasseral (BE), Switzerland
Setup: Canon EOS R + 70-200mm f/2.8 L USM on Skywatcher Star Adventurer travel mount. Settings: Exp 13 s, 200mm f/2.8, ISO 5000. Time: July 18, 2020, UTC 21:04. The dust tail (the brightest) and the gas tail (faint and opposite to the Sun) are clearly visible. Please click here for getting the image with the highest resolution.

Comet on July 20

The Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) from Prêles (BE), Switzerland
Setup: Canon EOS R + 70-200mm f/2.8 L USM on Skywatcher Star Adventurer travel mount. Settings: Exp 13 s, 200mm f/2.8, ISO 6400. Time: July 20, 2020, UTC 21:29. Notice that the unbarred spiral galaxy NGC 2841 is also visible.

The Great US Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017

About two and a half minutes of Black Sun

The Solar Corona @ UTC 17:45 from Glendo, Wyoming, USA
Setup: Canon EOS 100D + 400mm f/5.6 L, Settings: Exp 1/8 s, f/11, ISO 400, Time: August 21, 2017, UTC 17:45 One hidden star on this picture? Yes, but there are much more than only one. Please click here to identify more suns!

Solar Eclipse's Crescent and Prominences during Totality

The Eclipse @ UTC 16:51
Setup: Canon EOS 100D + 400mm f/5.6 L, Settings: Exp 1/800 s, f/11, ISO 200, Astrosolar Filter (density 5)
Sunspots are clearly visible.
@ UTC 17:39
Setup: Canon EOS 100D + 400mm f/5.6 L, Settings: Exp 1/1600 s, f/11, ISO 400, Astrosolar Filter (density 5)
@ UTC 17:44
Setup: Canon EOS 100D + 400mm f/5.6 L, Settings: Exp 1/60 s, f/11, ISO 400, Astrosolar Filter (density 5)
In this extreme phase just before the totality, the profile of the mountains of the Moon is visible, called Baily's beads or diamond ring effect.
@ UTC 17:46
Totality of the Eclipse
Setup: Canon EOS 100D + 400mm f/5.6 L, Settings: Exp 1/250 s, f/11, ISO 400, filter removed
@ UTC 17:46
Setup: Canon EOS 100D + 400mm f/5.6 L, Settings: Exp 1/500 s, f/11, ISO 400, filter removed
In this extreme phase just after the totality, the light from the photosphere reappairs strongly, but the tiny prominences remains visble mainly in emission Hα.
@ UTC 18:29
Setup: Canon EOS 100D + 400mm f/5.6 L, Settings: Exp 1/800 s, f/11, ISO 200, Astrosolar Filter (density 5)

Earthshine during the Eclipse

Earthshine, the Solar Corona (atmosphere of the Sun) and Regulus @ UTC 17:45 from Glendo, Wyoming, USA
Setup: Canon EOS 100D + 400mm f/5.6 L, Settings: Exp 1/4 s, f/11, ISO 1600, Time: August 21, 2017, UTC 17:46 The lunar maria become visible. (Reference image: Wikipedia)

A Special Magic Stamp dedicated to the Eclipse

The U.S. Postal Service is hosting the national release of its first-ever heat-sensitive thermochromic stamps during a summer solstice event Tuesday at the University of Wyoming Art Museum.
Please click here or on any stamp to see the animated GIF, illustrating the thermochromic ink.

The site of Glendo, Wyoming, USA, located precisely on the path of the totality

Path of the eclipse through the USA on August 21, 2017
Please click here for getting the high-resolution map.
Exit Glendo on Interstate Highway 25 North Observation area in Glendo
Background: a 3km-long loaded coal train
Camping car of Kathy and Jon The setup used for taking the pictures The Senior VP Sales observing Alternative for observing the eclipse Huge traffic jam on the way back
Bonus linked to this eclipse: Download a wallpaper designed for your Samsung Galaxy S10

Composite photograph of the solar eclipse (from Glendo, Wyoming, USA) and the Bernese Alps with Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau (from Prêles, Switzerland).
Free of charge picture. No copyright.

Special section dedicated to the lake Bienne and the floods of mid July 2021

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If you have any comments, please mail to : michel(at)willemin.li