Lunatic?

If the sky is clear on the morning of 21 February I will be getting up at around 1am and setting out, with my camera gear, to some pre-determined spot.

Lunatic?

Yes. But it’s for one of nature’s less-common spectacles. Over a period of nearly 4 hours the full Moon will fade away to almost nothing, then return to its glory - a total eclipse. The next one won’t take place until 2010.

An eclipse of the Moon happens when it passes through the Earth’s shadow and, because our largest natural satellite shines with reflected sunlight, it appears to go out ... but not quite. In fact, it will probably turn a deep coppery red. The exact shade cannot be predicted in advance. In some eclipses the Moon almost vanishes. In others it just turns a sort of brick colour. The exact shade depends on the amount of dust in the earth’s atmosphere. For a very comprehensive explanation of why, and what happens during an eclipse, read here.

This eclipse will provide some interesting photographic opportunities, but I’ll have to be prepared – finding a suitable site in advance, knowing where the moon will be in the sky at that time, and dressing up warmly.

The visible part is predicted to start at 1:43 Universal Time (UT, also called GMT) which is 2:43 in most of Europe (Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Netherlands, Scandinavia, etc.). If you live elsewhere you’ll have to calculate how your time differs from UT. You can find a good interactive map here. Then totality, when the Moon has faded away to almost nothing, will last about 50 minutes, from 3:01 to 3:51 Universal Time.

There are many way to photograph a lunar eclipse, far too many to cover in this blog, but if you want further details, go to Fred Espenak’s very comprehensive instruction page, here.

I’m sort of hoping for clear skies on Thursday night ... though if I’m really honest, I won’t be devastated if it’s cloudy. Then I can stay in my nice warm bed.

2 comments:

Beginnings, Middle and Ends said...

Mmmmm, I wonder what the moon will be up to on the other side of the world. I'll have to investigate time zone differences. With any luck, I at least wouldn't have to get up so early.

Thanks for the info on selling images to Shutterstock. I'm not sure mine are up to the quality of what they want, but it's certainly an interesting goal to aim for.

Your blog is quite interesting and, if you don't mind, I'll put a link from mine to yours.
Regards
TrishA
(wordcatcher)
http://beginningsmiddlesends.blogspot.com/

Alistair Scott said...

Unfortunately you won't be able to see the eclipse in Oz, Trish. :-( There's no way round the Laws of Physics ... or whatever it is that rules these things.

Give Shutterstock a try. If you can get accepted they are certainly worthwhile. They sell a lot of my images every month.

And thanks for putting a link on your website.

Cheers

Alistair