Super Blood Wolf Moon – Total Lunar Eclipse

Last night was the “Super Blood Wolf Moon” total lunar eclipse, so named because the Moon is currently closer to the Earth (super), it was a total eclipse (blood), in January (wolf).  By the way, my favorite full moon name is “Worm Moon” in March.  I think that would make a great story title.

We just had a cold front come through, so it was cold, but perfectly clear.  This was definitely the best and longest lunar eclipse I have ever seen, and the delightful enthusiasm from my young neighbors across the street added to my enjoyment.

I considered trying to use my intervalometer to make a detailed time lapse, but I knew I’d want to play around with camera settings too much.  So I used a sequence of shots to make a time lapse slideshow.

The full Moon is basically lit like daylight.

fullmoon20190120

Camera geek info:

  •            Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5.6, 1/800 second exposure, ISO 100
  •            Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 300 mm, manual focus
  •            Tripod
  •            Cable release

When the Moon was mostly eclipsed, it started to turn red.  I could either set the camera to get the detail of the lit side (and lose all the part in shadow), or set it for the shadow.  I thought the shadow picture was more interesting.

eclipsingmoon20190120

Camera geek info:

  •            Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5.6, 1 second exposure, ISO 100
  •            Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 300 mm, manual focus
  •            Tripod
  •            Cable release

When the Moon was fully eclipsed, it was dark red.  The camera picked up more color with a longer time exposure.  It was harder to focus, though, since the Moon was so dim.

totallunareclipse20190120

Camera geek info:

  •            Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5.6, 2 second exposure, ISO 100
  •            Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 300 mm, manual focus
  •            Tripod
  •            Cable release

When the Moon was coming out of the eclipse, dew had started to settle on the camera lens, so I got an interesting effect before I went inside to warm up my cold camera. And myself.

uneclipsingmoonwithdew

Camera geek info:

  •            Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5.6, 1 second exposure, ISO 100
  •            Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 300 mm, manual focus
  •            Tripod
  •            Cable release

Lunar Halo

lunarhalo20190117

Last night I spotted a beautiful lunar halo.  Time for some astrophotography!

Lunar halos are caused by ice crystals in high cirrus clouds. Since those high-cloud ice crystals can precede low-pressure systems, they sometimes mean rain is coming.  And, in fact, that is what the weatherman predicts.

BTW, these halos are quite large, 22 degrees in radius, as my use of my widest angle lens might suggest.

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 4 second exposure, ISO 400
  •             Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 lens, set at 10 mm, manual focus at infinity
  •             Tripod

Quadrantid Meteors 2019

stars20190104

Last night was the peak of the quadrantid meteor shower. The peak actually happened over the UK, but I hoped there would still be some quadrantids visible here in Texas. The moon hadn’t risen, a cold front had come through, and the sky was clear and beautiful.  I sat outside and stared up into the sky.  I saw one bright meteor and a handful of dim ones.  One crossed the bowl of the Big Dipper, which was neat.

My camera didn’t catch any meteors, but I did get some lovely pictures of the stars and a plane (the blinking lights on a plane make a dashed line).  There’s always something good to see, even if it wasn’t what I had planned.

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 13 second exposure, ISO 500
  •             Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 lens, set at 10 mm, manual focus at infinity
  •             Tripod
  •             Intervalometer

Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Comet46P-Wirtanen-20181216-1AM-acubedsf

I was excited to learn that there was a comet that might be visible to the naked eye this month.  I went out Tuesday night and was not able to see it, but was able to spot it in my pictures.  Unfortunately, the pictures were poor.

And then it rained.

And now it is clear again, and Comet 46P/Wirtanen is visible in binoculars, but still not obvious naked eye.  I got out all my tools to try to get a decent picture.

It’s right next to the Pleiades – a gorgeous site in themselves.

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4.5, 20 second exposure, ISO 500
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 150 mm, manual focus
  •             iOptron SkyTracker with ballhead
  •             Tripod
  •             Cable Release

Have you been able to spot it?

Moon and Venus

MoonAndVenus20180615

Last night, as we exited the movie theater, we saw a beautiful conjunction of the Moon and Venus, with a bright Venus floating above a crescent moon.  The cell phone pictures did not do it justice, nor did my hastily set up picture shot from the car window.

MoonAndVenus20180616

So I prepared to take pictures tonight.  The Moon had moved!  Still a beautiful conjunction, yes?

Moon20180616

And since I had the tripod set up, I captured a picture of the Moon as well.  It would be fun to explore its cratered surface.

Camera geek info:

Moon and Venus 6/15/18

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/25 second exposure, ISO 800
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 70 mm, autofocus on moon

Moon and Venus 6/16/18

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4.5, 1/5 second exposure, ISO 320
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 112 mm, manual focus on moon
  •             Tripod

Moon 6/16/18

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5.6, 1/60 second exposure, ISO 320
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 300 mm, manual focus on moon, IS off
  •             Tripod

Northern Lights, Inverness, Scotland, 3 AM

Whenever I am north, I always check two things: what is the geomagnetic activity and is the sky dark and clear?

We were in Scotland last week visiting our son and travelled to Inverness to see the sights up there. We scouted out a good aurora viewing spot (on the 5th floor of a parking garage) just in case. The sky was clear. I knew the geomagnetic activity would need to be at least kp 5 to have a chance of seeing anything, especially from the city. I set my alarm for 3 AM because that was when the predictions said we might have enough activity. I checked the aurora web site and saw this:

AuroraPredict20171108

Geomagnetic activity above kp 6! A G2 geomagnetic storm!

It was cold, but we went outside. It looked like there was a green glow around the moon.

I had my tiny travel tripod, and it did not reach high enough to see the horizon over the parking garage walls. But there was a handy grit container that I could put the tripod over to see over the wall.

I had read that unless you are very far north, the lights are not overhead but on the horizon, so I aimed my camera at the northern horizon.

Originally, the light was dim, but then it got brighter and it was green and it moved! What a treat! Then it went away, and it was time to get out of the cold and get a little more sleep before our tour in the morning.

Unfortunately, we did not get to see the Northern Lights again on this trip.  I hope to see them again sometime in the future!

Camera geek info:

Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5.6, 8 second exposure, ISO 1250

Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 lens, set at 10 mm, manual focus at infinity

Tripod

Cable release

Movie geek info:

Pictures cropped to use lower right quarter

Title screen 2 sec, other pictures 0.5 sec

 

Total Solar Eclipse – St. Joseph, MO

Our original plan was to drive to Missouri, visit family, and see the total solar eclipse from Rosecrans Memorial Airport in St. Joseph, MO. When we left home, the weather was predicted to be clear, but that grew worse as we travelled north. By the night before the eclipse, the weather was predicted to be partly cloudy at best, thunderstorms at worst. However, since none of the other local weather looked to be any better, we decided to stick to our original plan.

As we drove to the site, the clouds grew worse, but the traffic was not the expected carpocalypse.

The site had everyone parked in a field in a giant astronomy tailgate party. It was cloudy, but we were hopeful.

Here I am, ready to look at the sun.

EclipseSelfie

Camera geek info:

  •             Panasonic DMC-GF7 set at f/11, 1/125 second exposure, ISO 200
  •             LUMIX G VARIO 12-32/F3.5-5.6, set at 12 mm

Here’s what the site looked like.

EclipseClouds20170821-1108

Camera geek info:

  •             Panasonic DMC-GF7 set at f/11, 1/320 second exposure, ISO 200
  •             LUMIX G VARIO 12-32/F3.5-5.6, set at 12 mm

I set up my camera and tried to get a picture of the sun through the clouds. With the solar glasses on, I could see the sun, but not the camera. I tried to use live view to find the sun and focus so I wouldn’t be looking at the sun through the lens. Turns out, it was difficult to aim the camera with the telephoto lens at the sun with the solar filter on it using live view. I ended up using my wider angle lens to find the sun with live view and then switching.

Before the eclipse started, I was able to get a picture of the sun with its sunspots.

TotalEclipse20170821-1124

Time: 11:24

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/250 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 98 mm, manual focus at infinity
  •             Tripod
  •             Cable release
  •             Homemade Baader Solar Film solar filter

Then it rained. The camera gear and I sheltered in the car.

As the eclipse started, I was able to get another set of pictures of the sun as it went in and out of the clouds.

TotalEclipse20170821-1205

Time: 12:05

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/250 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 70 mm, manual focus at infinity
  •             Tripod
  •             Cable release
  •             Homemade Baader Solar Film solar filter

Then it rained.

The clouds looked angry, like aliens swarming in the sky.

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/160 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX lens, set at 24 mm, autofocus

Then it rained again, harder, with thunder. A lot of people started leaving. With totality a half hour away, I thought they’d just end up sitting in traffic and wouldn’t get anywhere better. We stayed. I hoped that the rain would clear enough of the cloud cover that we’d get another view of the sun.

When it stopped raining, I got out of the car.

An exclamation rose up from the crowd around me. Up in the sky, a tiny sliver of sun was visible through the clouds.

TotalEclipse20170821-1303

Time: 13:03

TotalEclipse20170821-1304

Time: 13:04

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/160 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 200 mm, autofocus

The sliver went in and out of the clouds.

Then it got dark. And I said, “whoa!” Then it got darker. “Wow!” Then it got as dark as night. “Amazing!!!!!”

For over two and a half minutes, we had darkness in the daytime. But the horizon was a sunset in every direction. In one direction I could see a pink and orange cloud with rain streaking down from it in the sunset, with black overhead and black below. Where we were, it was dark.

I spent some time with my mouth gaping open, admiring the sight.

My pictures of the sunset do not do it justice, as the camera was still set for taking pictures of the sun.

EclipseSunset

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/160 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 188 mm, autofocus

Then, after two and a half minutes of darkness, the sun returned. People on the field cheered. People on the bluff set off fireworks.

TotalEclipse20170821-1309

Time: 13:09

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/25 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 200 mm, autofocus

TotalEclipse20170821-1312

Time: 13:12

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/400 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 172 mm, autofocus

As the moon slowly uncovered the sun, the clouds drifted away.

TotalEclipse20170821-1338

Time: 13:38

TotalEclipse20170821-1347

Time: 13:47

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/100 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 163 mm, manual focus at infinity
  •             Tripod
  •             Cable release
  •             Homemade Baader Solar Film solar filter

TotalEclipse20170821-1405

Time: 14:05

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/200 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 163 mm, manual focus at infinity
  •             Tripod
  •             Cable release
  •             Homemade Baader Solar Film solar filter

TotalEclipse20170821-1408

Time: 14:08

Note that the sunspots have rotated from their position before the eclipse!

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/8, 1/200 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 163 mm, manual focus at infinity
  •             Tripod
  •             Cable release
  •             Homemade Baader Solar Film solar filter

TotalEclipse20170821-1417

Time: 14:17

TotalEclipse20170821-1429

Time: 14:29

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5, 1/200 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 163 mm, manual focus at infinity
  •             Tripod
  •             Cable release
  •             Homemade Baader Solar Film solar filter

I have enough pictures of the second half of the eclipse that I may try to make a time-lapse movie of it.

Note that all of these pictures were taken through clouds, and even with that, the pictures at the end were overexposed, and I could not see the sunspots. For a cloudless day, I’d want to use a much faster shutter speed. And remember to zoom the telephoto lens all the way out. LOL.

In spite of the clouds, experiencing totality was nothing short of amazing. I would not trade my cloudy totality for someone else’s sunny 98%. I look forward to trying this again when the next US total solar eclipse occurs over my home state of Texas!