Sunday, October 12, 2014

Eclipse Report 10-8-2014

NOTE: All times listed are Central Time (CT), unless otherwise stated.

Credit: Sky & Telescope
Early on the morning of October 8, 2014 the second total lunar eclipse of the year occurred. The first was back in April. According to the RASC Observers Handbook, the total eclipse would last about 59 minutes, 20 minutes shorter than in April. The full eclipse would be visible from the Pacific Ocean and along the pacific coast of North America. For those in the central and eastern parts of North America the eclipse would reach totality shortly before Moonset.

In Houston the eclipse was set to begin around 3:45 am. I decided to get up at 4 am which would be around when the partial eclipse would begin, or when the first shadow would be visible on the moon. I had set up my camera the previous day, making sure the battery was charged and my shutter trigger was attached and working. Of course photographing the eclipse would not be easy. Our backyard presented a few challenges. Trees being the biggest hazard.

Thankfully the path across the sky the moon took would take it right down a clear slot in the trees. So I would have clear shots of the moon all the way through Moonset. The weather that morning was warm and humid with no wind. The sky at first appeared cloudless. But upon doing a test long exposure shot I discovered there was a small layer of haze over the area. About 10 minutes after getting outside and setting up thick clouds rolled in from the south. Thankfully these did not stick around very long. The sky for the rest of the eclipse was clear.

Mid-Eclipse was reached about 5:55 am. Several stars became visible at this time. The planet Uranus, while not naked eye visible, was clearly visible through my camera viewfinder. I took a little over 200 photos during the the eclipse. I stayed outside till about 6:10 am. My camera was getting covered with dew and I was tired.

My photos for the most part came out great. The long exposure shots were again awesome. At least 11 stars and one planet are visible in those. Uranus was a very nice pale blue color in one photo. Uranus is actually the farthest planet I have photographed. Previously it was Saturn. Anyway, sadly most of my photos after eclipse totality are a bit blurry. Either due to me keeping the shutter open to long or me moving. Not likely its because I was moving around to much. But that's ok, lesson learned again for next time.

The next eclipse is just a few days away, Oct. 23, 2014. This time it will be a partial solar eclipse. I have already started preparing my telescope for the event, and am currently trying to rig up a safe solar filter for my Nikon camera.

Stay Tuned!

To see more photos I too that morning click here.