21 December 2010

Winter solstice lunar eclipse

Here are the series of pictures of the moon I took early this morning during the full lunar eclipse. We were lucky that the sky remained clear throughout the night.

The 1st one shows the pre-eclipse moon at 19:44 on 20 December.

I went to bed before midnight, but got up around 01:15 and stayed up for the next hour and a half. The good thing was that I didn't have to venture far from the house to photograph the moon. Until about 02:00 I had an unobstructed view of it from my deck. Soon after that the moon moved behind a pine tree. But even then I only had to step down into the backyard for a clear view of the moon.

The next shot taken at 01:26 shows a shadow falling across the upper lefthand edge of the moon. The eclipse had started.

At 01:53, the eclipse was obvious.

Most of the moon's face had been shadowed by 02:19. At that time, the stars near the moon had become visible. The eclipsed moon and the bright stars formed a nice spectacle that more than justified standing at below-freezing temperatures outdoors in the middle of the night.

This is the last photo I took at 02:41. These last pictures showing the full eclipse didn't come out good. Over at A DC Birding Blog, John has much better ones.

I took all the pictures with an Olympus E-500 camera using a Zuiko 40-150 mm lens set at 150 mm. Until shortly before the moon was fully eclipsed, I did not need a tripod and could hold the camera in my hands. Even at 02:09 the moon was still bright enough for a shutter speed that did not require the use of a tripod. Once the brightness of the moon was reduced to a sliver, however, I had to reduce the shutter speed and put the camera on a tripod. At the time when the full eclipse started, I was using a shutter speed of 1/30 s at f4.5 and a sensitivity of 400 to be able to capture the red light covering the eclipsed face of the moon. I should also have used a remote release, for some of the last pictures turned out blurry from the shaking of the tripod.


Cindy said...

Nice shots. I was counting on the efforts of others to view the eclipse vicariously this time around. Out here we are into our 5th straight day of (almost constant) rain.

You'd like my back patio right now. Slugs are cruising around everywhere like they own the place.

vanessa cardui said...

You're lucky. I watched on a webcam broadcast for awhile, then went to sleep and dreamed of clear weather and celestial happenings. Lots and lots of rain here in Southern California.