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.
The last two days have presented some interesting opportunities to photograph the moon under vastly different lighting.
The day before the full moon (27 September 2015) was a chance to shoot the moon as it rose between the pillars of Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona. Timing and location was determined using The Photographers Ephemeris. Shooting the moon the day before the full moon ensures that the moon has risen high enough to clear the rocks and that there is still good lighting on the rocks.
As always, I get a little nervous as I wait for the moon to rise from behind the rocks. Did I get the location right? Usually I’m pretty close and only have to move a short distance in one direction or the other; this time I didn’t have to move at all. Whew! A couple of photographers from Flagstaff joined me for this event. It was their first time “Shooting the Moon” at Cathedral Rock and they had a great time.
The main event came a day later with the lunar eclipse. This month’s full moon was also a so-called “Supermoon” which means that the moon was at perigee (closest approach). A full moon at perigee is visually larger up to 14% in diameter and shines 30% brighter than one at its farthest point (apogee). But since the moon was moving through the Earth’s shadow during the eclipse, brightness wasn’t really all that important.
The shadowed moon was dark enough that I was able to capture several stellar occultations during totality. This image was taken just a few seconds before the star HIP 1601 at the upper left limb of the moon was eclipsed. For this image, I used the iOptron Skytracker so that I could take longer images without streaking the stars or moon.
Just moments later, bands of thin cirrus clouds invaded the sky.
There was a partial solar eclipse October 23, 2014, that was visible across most of North America. Patches of cirrus clouds moved across the sky all day but the sun was always visible. To safely view the eclipse, we donned our solar eclipse glasses and sat back to enjoy the show. At our location, the maximum coverage was about 50% of the solar disk.
This photo was taken using a Panasonic Lumix FZ150 zoomed to 600mm (equivalent) focal length with an ND3 neutral density filter. The ND3 reduces incoming light by 10 stops. Even with the filter, I had to shoot at f/8 (the smallest aperture for this camera and a shutter speed of 1/2000 second at ISO 100 to get a reasonable exposure.
The large sunspot near the center of the solar disk is AR2192—the largest sunspot in several decades. The combination of solar eclipse and massive sunspot made for an interesting image.
The weather across northern Arizona was excellent with cloudless skies. It was a bit cold, however, with temperatures in Flagstaff falling from the lower 20s at the start to the upper teens at the end.
Total Lunar Eclipse from 0445–1038 UTC on 15 April 2014 as seen in northern Arizona. This is a composite of nine images taken approximately at P1, U1, U2, Max Totality, U3, U4, and P4, plus additional images between U1 and U2, and between U3 and U4. The time of each image is given in UTC. The definitions of the P and U numbers are given in the Wikipedia article and also shown below:
The images were taken with a Nikon D700 using various f-stops, ISO settings, and exposure times. A Nikon 80-200mm f/4 lens was used for all images. Although this is a vintage manual focus lens it it produces remarkably sharp images. For a discussion of this lens, check out this site.
Did you see it? There was an annular eclipse of the sun across the southwest today (20 May 2012). An annular eclipse occurs when the moon’s apparent diameter is just a bit smaller than that of the sun leaving a brilliant ring of fire.
The weather was magnificent with cloudless skies, warm temperatures, and light winds. The first two are common around here in the spring; the latter — not so much.
Although the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park was not on the center line it was close enough. Radio announcements all weekend indicated that there would be telescopes and free viewing/safety glasses for the public at Grand Canyon NP as well as other parks in the area. It was sure to be crowded and by early afternoon the Park Service was closing roads to some of the most congested viewpoints.
I ended up at Navajo Viewpoint and it eventually filled with many visitors and eclipse viewers. Telescopes and cameras were all lined up near the edge (but not TOO near the edge) of the Grand Canyon. Then we waited — and were rewarded with a spectacular show.
This is a composite of images taken using a 50-mm lens between 1723 and 1929 MST at 3-minute intervals. The background image was taken a few minutes after sunset and shows some of the smoke near the horizon from the many wildfires burning in the southwest.
The middle image (600 mm focal length) captures the setting sun as it dips behind a tree-topped mesa on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
The bottom image shows some of the cameras and telescopes lined up along the edge of the canyon.