Blood Moon, Supermoon, total Eclipse

on

by Adam Welbourn

No you’re not seeing things, this isn’t our upcoming monthly guide for October!

Being an amateur astronomer from the UK, more often than not I’m resigned to the fact that a lot of awe-inspiring celestial events only ever seem to happen for other people. Usually I’ll defend the infamous British weather, telling people it’s not as bad as the rest of the globe believes, but if bad weather can ruin a “must see” astronomical event most of the time it won’t fail to disappoint.

It was with some trepidation I set up the telescope on Sunday evening, with hopes of viewing the lunar eclipse up close and personal after surprisingly promising weather forecasts.

The skies darkened, and there were no clouds.

The star of the evening (and by star I mean Moon) makes a quiet entrance (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
The star of the evening (and by star I mean Moon) makes a low-key entrance (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Then the Moon started to rise, and there were no clouds.

Then midnight came and went, and still the Moon shone as brightly as I’ve ever seen it before.  This was going to happen!

Taken with the Moon lightly shrouded in penumbral shadow, the show is about to get a lot more interesting! (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
Taken with the Moon lightly shrouded in penumbral shadow, the show is about to get a lot more interesting! (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

I’ll admit despite the best of intentions I’ve not used my scope for far too long, but it wasn’t about to let months of neglect stop it performing. Through the eyepiece there it was, the first hints of the umbral shadow…

Slowly creeping over the face of the Moon, the umbral shadow makes an appearance (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
Slowly creeping over the face of the Moon, the umbral shadow makes an appearance (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

By this time the scope was already very cold, so on impulse I draped an old picnic blanket around it.  This in hindsight probably did enough to stave off the dreaded dew which has interrupted many an evening observing!

Now far more apparent, the shade cast by the Earth creeps ever onward! (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
Now far more apparent, the shade cast by the Earth creeps ever onward! (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

It’s difficult to describe seeing something so familiar appearing so completely alien, and it happening minute by minute in front of your eyes.

The Umbral shadow forms an ever decreasing cone of shade the further you go from the Earth (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
The Earth’s umbral shadow is an ever decreasing cone of shade shrinking the further you go from the Earth (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

In short time we’d gone from bright full Moon to a slim crescent of light, and it’s after this point the beauty of the Moon in full eclipse really starts to become apparent…

The light reflected from the Moon changes during eclipse, when the Earth's atmosphere scatters more blue than red light, casting a distinct hue (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
The light reflected from the Moon changes during eclipse, as the Earth’s atmosphere scatters more blue than red light, casting a distinct hue upon the surface (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Time for a quick trip indoors to get the kettle on, just to take the edge off!

More and more the red begins to spread, it's not called a Blood Moon for nothing (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
More and more the red begins to spread, it’s not called a Blood Moon for nothing! (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

The first time I saw a lunar eclipse I was struck by how much more three dimensional the Moon appears when experiencing totality. When lit directly by the Sun, the Moon always appears two dimensional, no matter what phase.

The lighter edge at the bottom hints at the location of the Sun (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
The lighter edge at the bottom hints at the direction of the Sun (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

I should have been in bed hours ago! I could hear nothing but the quiet hum of my scope leisurely tracking the Blood Moon across the sky, and the occasional snap as my camera took another image.

In full effect, the Blood Moon, Supermoon, total eclipse had lived up to expectations, and then some (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
In full effect, the Blood Moon, Supermoon, total eclipse had lived up to expectations, and then some. You can even make out stars visible around the edges! (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

But I wasn’t about to let the camera get the best view, so I took it off so I could have an ogle through the scope myself, and connected a regular lens for a much wider look.

Taken using a 50mm lens at f/2.8 2 secpnd exposure ISO-800, a very different looking Moon flanked by stars (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
Taken using a 50mm lens at f/2.8 2 second exposure ISO-800, a very different looking Moon flanked by stars (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

It’s amazing how many more stars are visible during eclipse, we’re used to seeing so few with the Moon in the sky it’s fantastic to have them both so beautifully on display, and unaffected by bad weather!

With totality now at an end, the umbral shadow begins to creep back across the Moon (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
With totality now at an end, the umbral shadow begins to creep back across the Moon (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

It had been a great few hours stood in the dark, marvelling at the show going on over head. Watching close up you could almost see the umbral shadow moving in front of your eyes.

The Moon begins to re-appear from the Earth's shadow, and the stars in the sky begin to dim again (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
The Moon begins to re-appear from the Earth’s shadow, and the stars in the sky begin to dim again (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

It was now 5am and I was supposed to be getting up in 2 hours…

Was it worth fighting to stay awake at work all through Monday? Absolutely.

Will I do it again? Weather allowing!

I’m British after all 🙂

Images captured using:

Sky-Watcher Explorer 200P EQ5 PRO SynScan 200mm Newtonian Reflector Telescope
Canon EOS 550D (Unmodified)
Canon 50mm f/1.8mm II Lens

I’m hoping to learn how to properly process the RAW images I got so I may post again once these are cleaned up a little!

Advertisements

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Linda Rae says:

    Thank you so very much for sharing! I could feel the moon’s gravitational pull through your photos 😀

    Like

    1. yaska77 says:

      And thank you for commenting! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s