I have been looking forward to this most recent Lunar eclipse for several months. I have worked up several scenarios to photograph the event, considered renting a larger lens, and more.
And, then, a few days before the event it became evident that it would probably be cloudy. All forecast models indicated increasing clouds moving in from the west. It was pretty obvious that I was not going to be able to capture the event from beginning to end.
That still left one possibility. There would be fewer clouds low in the east early in the eclipse so I might get a few shots of the beginning of the eclipse. So at the insistence of a friend, I joined him at Crescent Moon Picnic area near Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona.
The plan was to get a few twilight photos of Cathedral Rock before it got too dark. And then get a photo or two of the Moon as it rose between the spires of Cathedral Rock. The Photographers Ephemeris was used to determine the best spot to see the Moon in the gap.
And then we waited.
Right on time the Moon rose in the gap with the Moon visible from 2002 to about 2012 MST.
The photograph at the top is a blended image of Cathedral Rock at 1938 MST and the partially-eclipsed Moon at 2010 MST. Below are the two images before they were combined.
The next two total Lunar eclipses will occur 7–8 November 2022 and 13–14 March 2025.
We are entering Milky Way season—generally considered to be March through September in the northern hemisphere. In mid-March the Milky Way does not rise until well after midnight and the Galactic Center of the Milky Way is only about 25° degrees above the horizon by astronomical twilight.
Accompanying the Milky Way was the waxing crescent Moon which was 77% illuminated on the morning of 13 March 2022. The Moon would set around 0413 MST and twilight did not start until 0516 MST.
What this means is that I could photograph the landscape with the Moon illuminating it and then an hour or so later capture the Milky Way after the Moon had set and the sky was very dark.
I arrived with bright moonlight illuminating Cathedral Rock. I positioned the camera so that I could get some star reflections in the small—very small—pool of water. I also shot images without the water—just expanses of undulating red rock with alternating patterns of light and shadow.
Having finished that part of the show I had to wait until the Moon was at least a few degrees below the horizon allowing the sky to become very dark.
The Galactic Center of the Milky was about 16° above the horizon at moonset—which was just barely above the high point of Cathedral Rock. That wasn’t really the shot I wanted so I waited until it got higher.
Just before and after astronomical twilight the Galactic Center had risen to about 25° above the horizon. I shot a few images before twilight began to wash out the stars in the eastern sky. As a bonus, I was also able to capture the planets Venus and Mars just above the horizon.
The foreground images were shot at ISO 800, ƒ/5.6 and ƒ/8, and 120 seconds exposure with LENR (long exposure noise reduction) turned on. The star images were shot at ISO 800, ƒ/5.6, and 300 seconds exposure with LENR. Star images were taken with the camera mounted on an iOptron SkyTracker mount.
It was a pleasant evening in Sedona watching thunderstorms as the sun sank lower in the western sky. It was mostly clear in that direction allowing sunlight to illuminate storms in the east. This is one of my favorite setups: clear in the west and stormy in the east.
The setting sun produced wonderful pastel colors on the clouds and occasionally illuminated the rock spires and buttresses in the middle distance. And after sunset, distant storms showed large anvils along with occasional bolts of lightning.
The North American Monsoon has been sputtering—for lack of a better term—the past week or two. We get a few days of storms followed by a hot and dry period. Finally, however, moisture is beginning to increase and we are seeing more storms. I have tried several times this year to get great photographs of storms and lightning but my success rate has been pretty low.
Here are a few photographs from the past week.
And, finally we have a time lapse of the same storm that produced the lightning above. The video is 200x real time; from the motion it can be seen that the storm has some slow rotation. This storm moved off the higher terrain and became severe as it neared the Camp Verde area.
The weather models have been consistent with forecasting a significant increase in storm activity next week.
A late-season winter storm brought snow to the high deserts of northern Arizona. An early morning check of weather conditions indicated that Sedona airport (KSEZ) had reported snow. And satellite data showed an area of fog in the Verde Valley, including Sedona. This had the potential to be a great opportunity for photographs.
The early morning visit to Sedona was worth the effort. And the trip home included a stop at the recently re-opened Indian Gardens Cafe in Oak Creek Canyon.