Friday, December 09, 2011

Lunar Eclipse Photography, Dec 10, 2011


For tonight's moon rise and lunar eclipse events, there are a range of shots available:

Moon Rise: Friday evening before sunset (about 4:15, but time varies with location)
Sunset: Continued moonrise in best post-sunset color (about 5pm, but time varies with location).

Penumbral Eclipse Begins: 3:33am PST, moon at 41.4 degrees altitude
- Night landscapes or cityscapes with full moon in penumbral slightly dimmed state
Partial Eclipse Begins: 4:45am PST, moon at 27.0 degrees altitude (partial eclipse)
- Telephoto shots of moon in various eclipse phases
Total Eclipse Begins: 6:06am PST, moon at 12.3 degrees altitude (nice crescent moon w/red shots in the moments before this)
- Images of red moon and sky over landscapes/cityscapes
Total Eclipse Ends: 6:57am PST, moon at 2.9 degrees altitude
- Partially eclipsed crescent moon setting in best pre-sunrise light
Sunrise: 7:12am PST, moon at 0.4 degrees altitude (partial eclipse)
- Sunrise to moonset, "golden hour" daylight
Moonset: 7:17am PST, moon at -0.3 degrees altitude (partial eclipse)
- If you're in a very high place with very low horizons, for a few short minutes you may be able to capture a panorama, with the rare event of having both the sun and the moon in the sky at the same time!

The additional numbers are the degrees the moon will be above the horizon. Here's a chart enabling you to anticipate which of your lenses can cover something that high, for the shots where you'd like to include both the ground and the eclipsing moon:

Common lens angles of view
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angle_of_view#Common_lens_angles_of_view

If you shoot the entire eclipse in a sequence of still shots with your camera in one place, you can assemble them into a timelapse video like this one:



The other post-processing option for a sequence would be to create a composite photo of the phases, stacked into one image using software such as the free StarStaX:

Lunar Eclipse August 2007
Lunar Eclipse at Mono Lake


Here are my planning notes from last year, when it took me 46 hours to reach Tucson and a clear patch of sky to shoot the eclipse under:

Phases of the December 2010 Total Lunar Eclipse
http://activesole.blogspot.com/2010/12/phases-of-tonight-lunar-eclipse.html

For most viewers the apparent moon set time will tend to be a few minutes earlier due to terrain (or fog/smog).

Hopefully I'll find it a little easier this time around. The next total lunar eclipse isn't until 2014, so make the most of this one!