The moon is full. A little shadow appears in the corner. The shadow slowly grows until the entire moon appears a coppery color. Slowly the shadow recedes. The full moon has returned to full illumination.Nothing inspires more awe than an eclipse of the sun or moon. Eclipses occur when a celestial body obscures another celestial body or when a celestial body passes into the shadow of another celestial body. A lunar eclipse occurs during a full moon. The earth is between the sun and the moon blocking the sun’s light casting the Earth’s shadow onto the moon.
There are three types of lunar eclipses that can occur. A partial eclipse, a penumbral eclipse, and a total lunar eclipse. A partial eclipse occurs when only a portion of the moon passes through the earths shadow. The penumbral eclipse is difficult to observe. It occurs when the moon is caught in the earth’s penumbral shadow. This usually causes the moon to appear dim. A total lunar eclipse is the most spectacular. The moon is completely shadowed by the earth creating beautiful colors that range from deep red to copper. The longest observed total lunar eclipse lasted for 3 hours and 40 minutes with totality lasting for 1 hr 42 minutes. This leaves plenty of time to enjoy the astronomical event and even photogragh it.
Photographing at night presents a few challenges. Lower light levels at night require a longer exposure time . Exposure time should be at least 5 seconds. Digital cameras usually have night time modes and can be easily adjusted. Consult the cameras operation manual to find the correct digital settings for the camera. Do not use the flash for night time pictures. It is advisable to use a tripod since camera movement during longer exposure times can affect picture quality. A remote cable will decrease possible camera movement. If that is not available, use the camera’s timer to take the picture.
A typical digital camera will make the moon appear small. A little bit of creativity can be used to make the picture spectacular. The eclipse can be framed against a building or other visible landmarks. For larger images, a telephoto lens can be used. These can be expensive, however. Another idea is to get a telescope with a camera adapter.
Any night time photography requires patience and practice. It is important to have extra batteries or an alternate power supply. Take plenty of pictures as some pictures will not turn out at all.
A lunar eclipse of the moon is a great subject to photograph because it requires no special lenses to look through and is perfectly safe to view with the naked eye. With today’s digital cameras, it is a little easier, and with a little know how, preserving the memory of the next lunar eclipse will be a snap.