Total Lunar Eclipse Of April 04 2015

I LOVE getting out of bed at 03:00! (By which I mean that I absolutely abhor getting out of bed – in any way, shape, or form – at 03:00!) I actually tried to roll over and go back to sleep, but my stupid brain wouldn’t let that happen. (Stupid brain!)

So there I was, out in the front yard, colder than I wanted to be, with a little bit of high haze (but not much), setting up a telescope and some cameras just as the primary (umbral) stage of the lunar eclipse started this morning.

a0324_IMG_1864 small

First series of photos is from a Canon Rebel xT DSLR with a 300mm Tamron zoom lens. The first few all used a 1/4000 second exposure, the final ones all about 1/6 or 1/5 second unless otherwise noted. If you have any questions about specific parameters, please ask in the comments and I’ll be glad to tell you what I know. Or you can check the EXIF data on the files, I don’t think it’s been stripped out.

a0331_IMG_1873 small

When I first set up there were bunnies in the front yard, and far more than the usual one or two I occasionally see in the daytime. I’m guessing seven or eight, maybe more – they are quick when spooked by someone hauling out a big, clanky, metal telescope tripod and setting it up.

a0343_IMG_1885 small

About ten minutes after the bunny exodus I turned around and was myself spooked by a small pack of coyotes trotting down the sidewalk toward me. It seems they were just as surprised as I was. Yesterday was trash day, they were looking for scraps. Unlike Wiley last summer, these four looked pretty healthy and well fed. (Probably on bunnies!)

a0415_IMG_1893 small

A few minutes after the coyotes took off down the block, two large raccoons trotted into the yard. (By “large” I mean as big, or possibly even bigger, than our dog, a lab/shepherd mix.) They seemed miffed that I was there and they had to go climb onto the neighbor’s roof and then into the trees in order to get onto our roof. I’m guessing it was Rocky & Raquel, the local breeding pair. They also seemed very well fed.

a0415_IMG_1902 small

By this point in the eclipse, going to a much longer exposure (1/6 second here vs 1/400 second on the picture before) starts to bring out the reddish, orange-ish, brownish color of the eclipse, caused by sunlight refracting through the Earth’s atmosphere. (The blue-greenish ghost image to the upper left of the moon is an internal reflection in the lens, not the Death Star moving in for the kill.)

a0431_IMG_1911 small

a0432_IMG_1920 small

a0443_IMG_1933 small

a0450_IMG_1943 small

Almost there!

a0451_IMG_1949 small

Going to a much longer exposure (3 seconds) brings out a lot of color, some of the brighter stars near the moon, and a bit of blurring as the moon moves in its orbit and the camera doesn’t track it.

a0500_IMG_1955 small

Totality, but just barely. The upper limb of the moon never got very dark, which makes sense when it was just barely grazing the “top” of the Earth’s shadow. That’s why this was the shortest lunar eclipse in many hundreds of years.

Meanwhile, next to the camera on the tripod with the telephoto lens, I had a Meade EXT 5″ telescope with a Canon Rebel Xti DSLR attached. Exposures run from 1/2000 second to about 1 second during totality.

0325_IMG_3909 small

0326_IMG_3913 small

0338_IMG_3922 small

0344_IMG_3929 small

0354_IMG_3952 small

0405_IMG_3966 small

0415_IMG_3980 small

0421_IMG_3996 small

0422_IMG_4007 small

Again, time to go to longer exposures and start showing the dark portion of the moon and the colors there.

0438_IMG_4023 small

0444_IMG_4031 small

0454_IMG_4046 small

0459_IMG_4058 small

0505_IMG_4069 small

0506_IMG_4079 small

0509_IMG_4085 small

Exiting totality, and not a second too soon for us. The eclipse was occurring as the moon approached our western horizon. Within two minutes it was down behind the trees and hill to our west. Those with a clear western horizon would have seen it (barely!) all the way to the end of the partial phase as it disappeared, but we were done for the night.

Leave a comment

Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space

Please join the discussion, your comments are encouraged!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.