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

 

An Accurate Lunar Eclipse, At Last!


For years we astrophotographers have been thwarted by our recording media’s inability to capture a wide range of brightness in one exposure. A classic example is a lunar eclipse. The range in brightness between the non-eclipsed Full Moon and the part of the lunar disk in the Earth’s shadow is so great no one exposure can grab it all. You are left with either an over-exposed crescent or a dark under-exposed eclipsed Moon — nothing that looks anything like the eye can see.

At last, modern image processing comes to the rescue! This is a stack of 9 exposures, from 1/125th to 2 seconds, all at f/6 with a 130mm apo refractor and Canon 7D camera. The images were stacked and merged into one “high dynamic range” image using Photoshop CS5, whose new HDR mode is wonderful! A little tweaking of settings in the Tone Mapping dialog box, and voilá! An image of the partially eclipsed Moon that really looks like what the eye saw. I’m impressed.

— Alan, December 2010 / Image © 2010 Alan Dyer

Eclipse in the Winter Milky Way


The December 20, 2010 total lunar eclipse promised to be a photogenic one. With the Moon smack dab in the middle of the winter Milky Way, it was going to be a great sight, as the Milky Way appeared during totality. The event did not disappoint. Though some haze intervened, I wasn’t complaining, as the weather has been so poor of late, we were lucky to get a clear night at all, despite having to endure -20° C temperatures to take in the event. This shot captures the scene from my backyard during totality, with the over-exposed eclipsed Moon sitting in the Milky Way above Orion. The naked and binocular view was truly stunning.

I got back from Australia in time to see this event from home, squeezed in between Oz and a Xmas trip to the rainy west Coast. The plan worked! I managed to catch the eclipse, against the odds, which defeated many across Canada. Alberta was one of the few clear places for this event. I had considered a hasty trip to Arizona for it, but decided against it — a good thing, as I think they had cloud. The winter of 2010/11 is proving to be an awful one for many.

— Alan, December 2010 / Image © 2010 Alan Dyer