28 Sept 2015

28 Sep 15 - A Total Eclipse Of The Moon

And now for something different. Overnight there was a lunar eclipse of the Moon during a period of a Super Moon (which is when the Moon is at its closer to the Earth). This lunar eclipse also occurred on an evening of a full Moon. Most importantly, all these things coincided with a clear night, although occasional wispy clouds occasionally obscured the Moon for a minute or two. The Moon normally 'shines' due to reflected sunlight. But during a lunar eclipse, the Earth is positioned directly between the Sun & the Moon. As the lunar eclipse started, then the full Moon has a dark crescent (caused by the Earth's shadow). This continues to cast more of a shadow on the moon, until the total eclipse occurs.
Getting close to the eclipse: At 03:02 this morning. I should have got up earlier to get some early shots of the partial eclipse
Even closer to the eclipse: At 03:08 this morning. The eclipse was due to start at 03:10
Just as the full eclipse was starting, the Moon turned this lovely red colour
At this point, the Moon ends up losing virtually all of its reflected light & it turns a dull blood red colour (as the last vestiges of reflected Sun light is red light as that 'bends' round the Earth more than other frequencies of light). The only problem is there is so little reflected light that the moon is very difficult to photograph.
The 'Bloody Moon': Taken at 03:37 this morning. I like the background of faint Stars, which normally would not be possible to see this close to the Moon
This morning's photography was a matter of trial & error. Given the lack of reflected light, then a high ISO setting was used. This reduced the time the shutter was open. I found that if I left the shutter open for too long, then the Moon & Stars were drifting right & down across the camera screen & the image was blurred. Therefore, the higher ISO settings helped to reduce this drift, but at the expense of not being as sharp. All photos were taken with the camera on the tripod & with a two second delay from pressing the shutter, so any impact of me pressing the shutter should have been reduced by the delay (I haven't bought a cable release yet). In hindsight, it would have made sense to have the camera hooked up to the laptop, so I could download photos as they were taken. I could then have seen a bigger image of each photo & worked out the best settings to try. What looked OK on the back of the camera, wasn't as impressive as it was when finally seen on the laptop.
The 'Bloody Moon': A closer crop of the last photo. This was taken with the AF setting using the 400mm F5.6 lens, open as wide as possible. The ISO was 8000 & the shutter was open for 0.8 seconds. It has been cropped & sharpened, but there are no other corrections to the photo