Monroe's Blog

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Total Lunar Eclipse, August 28th, 2007

I woke up early on the morning of August 28th to observe the total lunar eclipse. My home in Havre de Grace does not have good visibility to the west due to some large trees and my neighbors' houses, so I had to go find a better spot. Fortunately I found one right off of Bulle Rock Rd just up the hill from home.

I set up my scope on a side road near one of the model houses up there. The skies were clear and the moon was bright before the eclipse began. I was fortunate to have no problems with clouds or fog. At about 4:51 AM I noticed the first hints of the Earth's shadow on the full moon. A few minutes later I snapped my first photos. I had some trouble connecting my Digital Rebel camera to the scope, so I had to use my backup plan of hand-holding my Nikon Coolpix 4500 to the 40mm eyepiece.

The photos can be seen at the bottom of the page here.

Note that with the unaided eye, the shadow "bite" started at the top of the moon. It is shown on the lower right here due to the orientation of the camera as I took the photo. It is not visible in this photo, but through the scope visually I could see a hint of red in the shadowed portion almost right from the start.

As the shadow moved across the face of the moon, the moon moved lower, toward the horizon. Since sunrise was also approaching, the sky was brightening too. I took more photos every few minutes to document the partial phase of the eclipse.

After this, the moon became so dim that I couldn't adequately hand-hold the camera to the eyepiece.

When totality started at 5:52 AM, the moon looked like a very dim red disk. The sky was quite bright by then. I only got to see totality for a few moments before the brightening sky completely washed it out, making the moon invisible to me.

I was happy to actually see an astronomical event without being clouded or rained out. Hopefully the conditions will be as nice for the next lunar eclipse, which takes place on February 21st, 2008.

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