Total Eclipse of the Moon (December 10, 2011) #3

This is my favourite shot from the December 10 dawn eclipse. It’s the one I was after, with the red Moon in a blue sky over the snow-covered Rockies.

Lunar eclipses don’t have the dramatic and sudden effects of a total eclipse of the Sun. But neither do they have the anxiety and sometimes sheer panic! Lunar eclipses are more stately affairs as they play out in a relaxed manner over 2 to 3 hours. But they are beautiful nonetheless, especially when the Moon is low in the sky and set above a scenic landscape at moonrise or, as it was with this eclipse, at moonset.

The red colouration of the Moon makes the scene, as the Moon, embedded in Earth’s shadow, becomes lit by the light of all the sunsets and sunrises going on around the world at once. If Earth had no atmosphere the Moon would go completely black during a total eclipse. But besides making life on Earth possible (no small thing!), our atmosphere also provides us the wonderful sight of a red Moon during a total eclipse. Take a deep breath and enjoy!

— Alan, December 10, 2011 / Image  © 2011 Alan Dyer



Total Eclipse of the Moon (December 10, 2011) #2

This was the view well into totality as the eclipsed Moon set into the morning twilight sky. On December 10 we got a fantastic view of the total lunar eclipse at dawn, with the red Moon over the Rockies.

I shot this from the grounds of the Rothney Observatory in the foothills southwest of Calgary. The Moon is completely in Earth’s shadow here but with its southern or bottom edge brighter than the top, so it overexposes here. This view captures the scene as the eye saw it, at about 7:30 a.m. local time, an hour before sunrise and moonset.

A full house of 100 people showed up at the Observatory for a public event and breakfast. I dare say they got the best view of this eclipse of anyone in Canada.

— Alan, December 10, 2011 / Image © 2011 Alan Dyer


Total Eclipse of the Moon (December 10, 2011) #1

It has been a long time between Blog posts, with no new astrophotos from me for a while. But the drought ends due to thankfully fine conditions for the total eclipse of the Moon, on Saturday morning, December 10.

Skies were wonderful and the conditions actually pleasant for a winter morning at 6 a.m. For us in southern Alberta, the Moon went into eclipse as it descended into the western sky in the pre-dawn hours. The timing wasn’t convenient, but the view more than made up for the effort of getting up at 3 a.m. to drive west out of cloud to the Rothney Observatory. Their location in the foothills proved clear and perfect for looking west, to see the Moon over the Rockies.

This is one of my earlier shots in the 3-hour event, taken just before totality began, when the Moon was still in a dark sky. The camera was on a tracking platform to keep the stars from trailing during the 30 second exposure, causing the ground to trail instead.

You can see the Pleiades cluster at right, and Betelgeuse in Orion at left.

This was the last total eclipse of the Moon anywhere in the world until April 14, 2014.

— Alan, December 10, 2011 / Image © Alan Dyer 2011


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