Last night I was able to not only view, but image a total lunar eclipse. There are a lot more lunar eclipses than there are solar for us to view. That doesn’t make them any less amazing. The weather cooperated wonderfully as a front blew through earlier in the day making sure that the air was extremely clear, although cold. As the clock passed 1:30am the shadow on the moon started to grow. At first it was so dim you really didn’t even notice it. It took me looking at the moon through binoculars and at the images from two different camera’s before I was sure it had started.
It is interesting to watch a total lunar eclipse and see the progression on camera. Your eyes are amazing devices and compensate for the moon dimming where the camera does not. You sort of notice that everything is getting dimmer around you but it doesn’t really sink in until you have to adjust the exposures on the camera to keep things looking even. The so called “blood moon” looks almost as bright as the full moon, but it is tremendously dimmer. The lunar eclipse schedule is pretty quick and it is all over before you realize it. If you get the chance to watch lunar eclipse live, put aside at least an hour or more. Some last less than an hour and some last for three or more hours.
Once the eclipse is in totality it is hard to pull yourself away from looking at it long enough to check the pictures and make sure the exposure is correct. This is when you need your camera automated. You can automate higher end cameras by using a computer to control it or using a device that takes exposures on a set schedule or interval called an intervalometer. Some cameras, and even video cameras like a GoPro can take multiple exposures at a set interval without external control.
If you haven’t seen a total lunar eclipse in person you really should make it a point. The next two are October 8th of 2014 and April 4th of 2015 for a good portion of North America.
You can read more about a lunar eclipse at Wikipedia.
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