The Snowbound Eclipse


For once I was able to watch a total eclipse of the Moon under clear skies from home. Good thing, as a snowstorm would have made travel a challenge. 

On November 8, 2022 the Full Moon once again passed through the umbral shadow of the Earth, as it has done at six-month intervals for the last two years. The Moon turned deep red for almost an hour and a half. 

This is the totally eclipsed Moon of November 8, 2022 set in the stars of Aries, with the planet Uranus nearby, visible as the greenish star about three Moon diameters away from the Moon at the 10 o’clock position.

This was to be the last total eclipse of the Moon visible from anywhere in the world until March 14, 2025. 

However, in the days leading up to the eclipse weather prospects looked poor. The worse snowstorm — indeed the first major snowstorm for my area — was forecast for the day before the eclipse, November 7. Of course! 

Weather prospects for eclipse time from the Astrospheric app.

For all the lunar eclipses in the last decade visible from my area, I have had to chase to find clear skies, perhaps a couple of hours away or a half day’s drive away. I documented those expeditions in previous posts, the latest of which is here for the May 15, 2022 total eclipse. In all cases I was successful. 

However, just once it would be nice to be able to stay home. The last “TLE” I was able to watch from home was on December 21, 2010. It had been a long decade of lunar eclipse chasing! 

But, it looked like another chase might be needed. Weather maps showed possible clear skies to the west and south of me on eclipse night. But cloud over me. 

Other forecast models were a bit more optimistic.

The problem was with six inches of new snow having fallen and temperatures forecast to be in the minus 20s Celsius, any drive to a remote site was going to be unwise, especially at 3 am for the start of the eclipse in my time zone in Alberta. 

I decided to — indeed was more or less forced to — stay put at home and hope for the best. So this was the “snowbound eclipse!” 

Luckily, as the snowstorm receded east, clear skies followed, providing better conditions than I had expected. What a pleasure it was watching this eclipse from the comfort of home. While operating camera gear at -25° C was still a challenge, at least I could retreat inside to warm up. 

A wide-angle view of the total eclipse of the Moon of November 8, 2022, with the red Moon at right amid the stars of the northern winter sky, plus with bright red Mars at top. Above and left of the Moon is the blue Pleiades star cluster, while below it and to the left is the larger Hyades cluster with reddish Aldebaran in Taurus. The stars of Orion are left of centre, including reddish Betelgeuse, while at far left are the two Dog Stars: Procyon, at top, in Canis Minor, and Sirius, at bottom, in Canis Major.

The view with the naked eye of the red Moon set in the winter sky was unforgettable. And the views though binoculars were, as always, the best for showing off the subtle colour gradations across the lunar disk. 

A self-portrait of me observing the total eclipse of the Moon on November 8, 2022, on a very cold (-25° C) morning at 4 am.

As has been the tradition at the last few eclipses, I shot a souvenir selfie to show I was really there enjoying the eclipse. 

A view of the aurora that appeared during the November 8, 2022 total eclipse of the Moon, as the sky darkened to reveal a show of Northern Lights on this very cold and icy night at 4 am.

A bonus was the appearance of some Northern Lights during totality. As the bright Moon dimmed during its passage into Earth’s umbral shadow, darkening the sky, the aurora began to appear to the north, opposite the eclipsed Moon. 

Not a great display, but it was the first time I can recall seeing aurora during a lunar eclipse. 

A parting shot of the now partially eclipsed Moon setting in the west down my driveway, early in the morning of November 8, 2022. With the Canon R6 and TTArtisan 21mm lens at f/2.8.

My parting view and photo was of the now partially eclipsed (and here overexposed) Moon emerging from the shadow and shining right down my rural snowbound driveway. 

It was a perfect last look from home of a sight we won’t see again for two and half years. 

— Alan, November 9, 2022 (amazingsky.com

The Rise and Set of the Easter Full Moon


Rising Easter Full Moon (Composite)

A clear day on Easter Eve allowed me to photograph the setting Full Moon in the morning and the rising Full Moon in the evening.

This was another of the year’s special Full Moons, and this time for a valid historical reason.

This was the “paschal” Full Moon, the one used to determine the date of Easter. It was the first Full Moon after the vernal equinox. The first Sunday after that Full Moon is Easter. This year, the Moon was full about an hour before sunrise on the morning of Saturday, March 31. Easter was the next day, Sunday, April 1.

Below is the view of the Full Moon not long after it was officially Full, as it was setting into the west as the first rays of sunlight lit the foreground at dawn on March 31.

The Easter Full Moonset #1 (March 31, 2018)
The setting Full Moon on the morning of Saturday, March 31, 2018, the day before Easter. At this time, at about 7:20 a.m. MDT, the Moon was a little less than an hour after the moment of exact Full Moon, so the Sun had already risen before the Moon set. This was with the Canon 6D MkII and 200mm lens with 1.4x convertor, shot from home.

To be precise, the actual paschal Full Moon is a fictional or calculated Moon that occurs 14 days into the lunar cycle, and isn’t an observed Moon. But this year, we really did have a Full Moon just before Easter Sunday, and on the first day of Passover, from which we get the term “paschal.”

Later on March 31, after sunset, the Moon was now half a day past Full, causing it to rise a good half hour after sunset. However, the lighting and sky colour was still good enough to place a reddened Moon rising into a deep blue sky for a wonderful colour contrast.

This was also touted as a “blue Moon,” as it was the second Full Moon in March, and it was also the second blue Moon of 2018. (January had one, too.) But as you can see the Moon was hardly “blue!” It was a fine pink Moon.

Rising Easter Full Moon (Trail)
This is a stack of 424 exposueres, taken at 3-second intervals for a time-lapse, but here stacked with Lighten blend mode to create a moon trail streak. I used the Advanced Stacker Plus actions in Photoshop. The final Moon disk comes from the last image in the sequence, while the ground comes from the first image in the sequence. I shot this sequence from home, using a 200mm Canon lens and 1.4x convertor, on the Canon 6D MkII. Exposures ranged from 0.8 second to 1/15 second, all at ISO 100 and f/4.

The above image is a little fun with Photoshop, and stacks hundreds of images of the rising Moon to create a “Moon trail,” showing the change in colour of the Moon as it rose.

This short HD movie includes two versions of the full time-lapse sequence:

• One showing the Moon rising normally, though the sky and ground come from the first image in the sequence.

• The second is another bit of Photoshop fun, with the Moon leaving disks behind it as it rose.

For the technically minded, I created both movies using Photoshop’s video editing capabilities to layer in various still images on top of the base video file. The stills are layered with a Lighten blend mode to superimpose them onto the background sky and video.

Rising Moon Movie Composite Screenshot
A screen shot of the Photoshop layers used to create the Moon disk composite time-lapse.

While Easter is a spring holiday, it hardly seems spring here in Alberta. The coldest Easter weekend in decades and lots of snow on the ground made this a winter scene.

With luck, spring will arrive here well before the next Full Moon.

— Alan, April 3, 2018 / © 2918 Alan Dyer / amazingsky.com 

 

Waning Moon in the Sunrise Clouds


Waning Moon at Sunrise (Feb 27, 2014)

The thin waning Moon sits in the red clouds of sunrise on a winter morning.

This was the scene this morning, February 27, just before sunrise when I was able to catch the thin crescent Moon – a waning Moon – amid the sunrise clouds. The Moon just happened to appear in a clearer hole in the clouds, in a blue patch above the pinks and oranges of the clouds. They contrast with the cold blue snow below.

This was a beautiful scene to start the day.

– Alan, February 27, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer

 

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