Saturday, September 26, 2015

Total Lunar Eclipse on Sept. 27th

Sky and Telescope's online magazine
MacRobert, Alan. “Ready for Sunday Night’s Total Lunar Eclipse?” Sky & Telescope - The essential Guide to Astronomy. N.p., 21 Sept. 2015. Web.
I think we are going to have sunny to partly cloudy skies, in Maine, for the final one of 4 total eclipses that have occurred over the past year. The eclipse will occur over a 3.5 hour period, and will be "mostly high in the sky." You will begin to see a small sliver of the moon covered by Earth's shadow, beginning at 9:07 pm. By 10:11 pm, the moon will be completely within Earth's shadow and will remain there until 11:23 pm. After that time, you will see the moon gradually reappear, and brighten, until 12:25 am, on Monday, when it will appear as a fully lit moon. For more information about the total lunar eclipse, read Sky and Telescope Magazine's article.

On Saturday evening, we are going to scope out the track of the Moon to see where we want to set up our tripod. We'll also practice with camera settings to get the best photos we can. Let's hope for optimum photo ops for the event!
Here is a practice photo I took tonight. It took us forever to figure out how to photograph the almost full moon. I must say that this is a rather soft photo. I did better last year hand-holding our Lumix camera at twilight. I hope I can take sharper photos tomorrow evening. After lots of trial and error, I used a 500mm lens with the following settings: M (manual settings), 1/500th sec, ISO 200, Multiple point focus, F9. As the moon goes into the eclipse phase, I'll dial down the shutter speed over time. I will probably put a 1.4x teleconverter on the lens as well. This will yield a larger photo. Tomorrow night, I'll also put a dew shield on the camera as it is going to be rather cool. I would have practiced more tonight, but I am so tired after attending the Common Ground Fair earlier today.