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I'm teaching an astronomy class in the fall and I had this idea for a photo project. I want my class to take a daily picture of the Sun (around sunrise) at the exact same location and having the camera pointing in the exact same direction. At the end of the class, I want to combine all the pictures of the Sun into one picture so they can see how the Sun has moved across the horizon over the school year.

My question is, what's the best camera (and setting) to do this with. I have access to an SLR, iphone, and ipad camera. After I have all the pictures, how do I go about merging them all? (In terms of what software woudl work and the basics of how to do it?)

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    Hi Amanda, That's a great project. If you search for "analemma" and look at the images, you'll see various results for your idea. Do review the "help" (above) for guidance regarding what kinds of questions are allowed here and how best to pose questions. There might also be an answer to your questions among previously asked and answered questions. – Stan Jul 7 '16 at 19:43
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    Solargraphs are another way to see this effect. flickr.com/groups/solargraphy – Matthew Whited Jul 7 '16 at 19:45
  • Possible duplicate of How to take a picture at the same time everyday? – Michael C Jul 8 '16 at 0:11
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So you will need to either temporarily dedicate a camera for the project or you need to ensure that its position and angle of view are always the same. The DSLR will be probably best for this as it can be placed on a tripod. They also allow better control over exposure: you need to make sure that the sun is well separated from the sky... Many tripods come with quick release plates that allow removing the camera and mounting it again without moving the tripod. If tripod does not sound practical, look at products of Bogen/Manfrotto, they have a few appliances that might meet your needs better. If the camera has a zoom, make sure it is always set to the exact same focal length. Best either at the very end of the zoom or use a fixed focal length lens.

As far as blending the images, Photoshop allows that. It will align the individual images into a stack (if it has enough clues) and you can control the blending.

If yout use a DSLR, don't look into the sun through the viewfinder, btw.

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Mirek gave some excellent advice. A couple other things:

important Make sure you've done your homework and determined the range of azimuth angles over which the sun will rise during this experiment. Make sure the camera covers this view angle. Make sure you start with the first sunrise at one edge of the view (and the expected final sunrise is at the opposite edge of the FOV).

If you can set your camera up so there's a good landmark such as a church steeple in view, that will greatly aid in aligning all photos, and in realigning your camera should the mount get moved for any reason.

You may already be doing this, but why not have your kids generate math models of the solar position, and then compare the predictions with the recorded images?

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How about a "beer can" camera? (You can also use one of those big energy drink cans if you can't have a beer can in your classroom.)

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