Eclipse of the Hunter’s Moon

Total Eclipse of the Hunter's Moon

The Hunter’s Moon of 2014 turned deep red during a total lunar eclipse.

It wouldn’t be an eclipse without a chase!

To see and shoot this total eclipse of the Hunter’s Moon I had to chase clear skies, seeking out the only clear area for hundreds of miles around, requiring a 3-hour drive to the south of me in Alberta, to near the Canada-US border, at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park.

It was worth the midnight trek, though I arrived on site and got set up with just 10 minutes to go before the start of totality.

But I was very pleased to see the sky remain mostly clear for all of totality, with only some light haze adding the glow around the eclipsed Moon. Remarkably, the clouds closed in and hid the Moon just after totality ended.

This is a single 15-second exposure at ISO 400 with a Canon 60Da, shooting through an 80mm apo refractor at f/6 and on an equatorial mount tracking the sky at the lunar rate. I shot this shortly after mid-totality. It shows how the Moon’s northern limb, closest to the edge of the umbral shadow, remained bright throughout totality.

It shows lots of stars, with the brightest being greenish Uranus at the 8 o’clock position left of the Moon, itself shining in opposition and at a remarkably close conjunction with the Moon at eclipse time.

More images are to come! But this is the result of fast processing after a dawn drive back home and an all-nighter chasing and shooting an eclipse.

– Alan, October 8, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer


The Rising of a Pre-Eclipse Moon

Rising Pre-Eclipse Moon #4 (Oct 6, 2014)

‘Twas the night before the night before … an eclipse of the Moon.

This was the beautiful moonrise tonight, on Monday, October 6, two days – by calendar date – before the total lunar eclipse on October 8.

However, as the eclipse occurs at pre-dawn on October 8, it’s really just a day and half to go before the Moon turns red as it passes through Earth’s shadow.

I shot these as the gibbous Moon, waxing toward Full, rose over the harvested field to the east of home. The setting Sun nicely lit the clouds which partly hide the Moon.

Rising Pre-Eclipse Moon #1 (Oct 6, 2014)

Earlier in the evening, I grabbed this shot as the Moon appeared and two white-tailed deer ran through the yard and out into the field below the rising Moon. Moon deer!


This is the sequence that will happen early on October 8, in a diagram courtesy Fred Espenak at The times are for Mountain Daylight, my local time zone. The eclipse will be total from 4:25 to 5:24 a.m. MDT (6:25 to 7:24 a.m. EDT) when the Moon will be immersed in the umbral shadow and will appear deep red.

Use binoculars for the best view of the colours. An eclipsed Moon looks wonderful, like a glowing red globe lit from within, but it’s really lit by the red sunlight from all the sunsets and sunrises going on around the world at once.

The next total lunar eclipses are April 4, 2015 (again pre-dawn) and September 27, 2015 (at convenient early evening hours), both visible from North America.

Clear skies and happy eclipsing!

– Alan, October 6, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer


Lunar Eclipse from Oz

Total Lunar Eclipse (April 15, 2014) #1

The eclipsed red Moon rises over the waters of Lake Macquarie on the east coast of Australia.

I was still in Australia for this eclipse and managed to see and shoot it, but only just!

Total Lunar Eclipse (April 15, 2014) #2

I was on the Central Coast of New South Wales, where clouds and rain have been prevalent all week, in part caused by departing remnants of Cyclone Ita. The prospects for seeing this eclipse from the coast looked bleak indeed.

Total Lunar Eclipse (April 15, 2014) #3

From eastern Australia, the Moon rose at sunset in mid-eclipse on our evening of April 15. I was with family in Australia and so we made an evening picnic of the event, joining a few others in the lakeside park who were there to also see the eclipsed Moon over Lake Macquarie, Australia’s largest salt water lake. I wanted to catch this eclipse over water, to see the effect above — the “glitter path” from the Moon but one turned red by the eclipsed Moon.

Total Lunar Eclipse (April 15, 2014) #4

As we were about to give up, I caught sight of the Moon as it rose into breaks in the cloud, revealing the red Moon near Spica and Mars. We saw the last of totality and the early stages of the final partial eclipse. But later in the evening clouds rolled in again and the rain poured down. Indeed, I took my last images of the eclipse with light rain falling and the cameras getting wet. This isn’t the first eclipse I’ve watched in the rain!

I shot with fixed cameras with 50mm and 135mm lenses. The top image is a 135mm telephoto shot, the other three are with the 50mm lens.

— Alan, April 16, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer




A Prairie Partial Eclipse

This was the kind of eclipse chasing I like — just to the end of my driveway … to shoot the partial eclipse of the Moon before dawn on June 4.

While the car is all packed with gear for a possible flight or cross-country chase to clear skies to catch the Venus transit tomorrow, the lunar eclipse required no travel at all. Not that I was going to make too much effort at 4 am!

While some clouds got in the way, a clear hole opened up at the right time, with the remaining clouds adding a photogenic touch. I’m hoping to be as lucky for the transit!

This was just a partial lunar eclipse, with only 37 percent of the Moon immersed in the Earth’s umbral shadow at mid-eclipse, shortly after this image was taken. Even so, some of the reddening of the shadowed portion of the Moon’s disk does show up here.

I shot this from southern Alberta with a Canon 60Da and an 18-200mm lens at 115mm to frame the Moon and prairie landscape.

— Alan, June 4, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer

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