Super-Blood-Moon!

We had a lunar eclipse this evening! The news was hammering on about the super-blood-moon. Can they be any more dramatic? I suppose it wasn’t the most exiting news day. It was a super-moon because it was at perigee, which is the point in its orbit nearest the earth. It’s a blood-moon because a total lunar eclipse has a red colour.

Before the whole show started, I went outdoors to make sure I knew where the moon was going to be, and plan where I would be to see it. It certainly did seem brighter than normal. I took a photo of what I saw.

4M6C3461.CR2: 5D Mk.III, EF 400mm 1:5.6L @ 1/400, f/8, 100 ISO

4M6C3461.CR2: 5D Mk.III, EF 400mm 1:5.6L @ 1/400, f/8, 100 ISO

To my great disappointment, a cloud bank was approaching. This was the best I could manage once the clouds arrived, and as you can see, the Earth’s shadow covers just less than half of the moon. Also note that the shadow is curved. This is why Aristotle (correctly) deduced that the earth was a sphere 2400 years ago!

4M6C3463.CR2: 5D Mk.III, EF 400mm 1:5.6L @ 0.4, f/5.6, 1600 ISO

4M6C3463.CR2: 5D Mk.III, EF 400mm 1:5.6L @ 0.4, f/5.6, 1600 ISO

To my surprise, as totality approached, the clouds cleared out. Here, the Earth’s shadow almost completely covers the moon. Note that it doesn’t really look like the photo below. Your eyes can see far more dynamic range (light and dark) than my camera. The photo shows just a sliver of light and the rest is invisible, but looking at it, you could see a hint of the rust coloured tinge on the shadowed portion.

4M6C3474.CR2: 5D Mk.III, EF 400mm 1:5.6L @ 1/200, f/5.6, 3200 ISO

4M6C3474.CR2: 5D Mk.III, EF 400mm 1:5.6L @ 1/200, f/5.6, 3200 ISO

The photo above was exposed to show you the bright portion of the moon. The photo below is exposed to show you the portion of the moon in shadow. The over-exposed part looks like it’s bulging, but it really isn’t. That’s an artifact of the over-exposure.

4M6C3475.CR2: 5D Mk.III, EF 400mm 1:5.6L @ 0.3, f/5.6, 6400 ISO

4M6C3475.CR2: 5D Mk.III, EF 400mm 1:5.6L @ 0.3, f/5.6, 6400 ISO

I wanted to wait for the middle of the totality so the moon would show as uniform a brightness as possible. Even the photo below shows a bright lower-right limb because it was taken toward the beginning of the totality. Still, it shows a great improvement as compared to the photo above. But I couldn’t wait any longer because another wave of clouds arrived.

4M6C3497.CR2: 5D Mk.III, EF 400mm 1:5.6L @ 1/4, f/5.6, 6400 ISO

4M6C3497.CR2: 5D Mk.III, EF 400mm 1:5.6L @ 1/4, f/5.6, 6400 ISO

Note also that while many total lunar eclipse photos will appear like the photo above, it doesn’t look at all like this to the naked eye. It looks far dimmer and more rust coloured than orange. Note also that the last two photos have specs in the blackness around the moon. Those are stars. The other photos don’t show any stars because the exposures are much shorter. As a comparison, the camera settings I used for the last two photos allow about 12 times as much light into the camera as compared to the third-last photo and 1500 times as much light as the first photo.

All in all, I’m very pleased. Even with the clouds. The last time I took photos of a lunar eclipse, it was -20º outdoors. That wasn’t much fun.

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2 Comments

  1. Jessica
    Posted September 28, 2015 at 21:45 | Permalink

    Super freakin’ awesome cool! We watched from in front of the neighbour’s house, but there was a really bright streetlight nearby and we also got lots of cloud cover just before totality. And I was really tired. So I went to bed once the clouds took over. Jerk clouds.

    • Rick
      Posted September 28, 2015 at 21:50 | Permalink

      Clouds *are* jerks…especially when they get in the way of what you’re trying to see! On the other hand, I like them when they dump rain on days I’m off so I don’t have to do yard work. I guess clouds cut both ways…

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