Last night provided a thrilling drama far beyond what I expected from a lunar eclipse, even a supermoon lunar eclipse.
Perhaps I should have expected drama. According to the mainstream, it’s not merely a lunar eclipse, but a “blood moon,” a term which conjures images of elder gods demanding sacrifice. I guess I’m lucky, then, that instead of having to deal with plagues of locusts, meteors striking the earth, and wormwood spewing from my faucets, the worst I had to deal with was a thin layer of cloud cover.
Even so, I did experience many ups and downs as the moon bobbed in and out of the clouds. One moment it shone full and bright, the next moment it was completely invisible. Then it peeked out of the clouds for just a moment more before plunging back behind the veil.
I was worried one moment that I would miss the eclipse entirely, and the next moment I was elated when the moon emerged, partially veiled in the dark umbra, and then in a bright crescent. I spent the evening live-tweeting the event, so I was rushing in the house to upload each clear shot I got before dashing out again to take more.
I do wish I had better equipment. I was once an amateur photographer, but this was back in the film days, and as far as digital equipment is concerned, I am at baffled by the features and shocked by the sticker price.
In my hobbyist days, I took photos using black and white film on a refurbished Minolta my dad bought from a flea market. For tonight’s eclipse, I used a Sony HD Handicam. It was far more expensive than my Minolta, and I find I can do less with it because everything it automatic. I can change some settings, but not many. The photos I took were hopelessly mediocre.
The first shots I managed were of the moonrise.
I added a filter for this next moonrise shot, which I think adds a lot more clarity in viewing the moon’s features.
And here is the reason for my first panic, as the moon began to rise over the cloudline.
After this, the moon was completely covered as it presumably moved into the umbra. I couldn’t see the moon at all until the eclipse was full.
Here we see my camera’s limitations. I can’t do long exposures with this camera, and the eclipsed moon was too dim for the camera to pick up, so I had to switch to the night vision function. I used the filter above to correct the green tint. You can’t see the “blood,” but to be fair, the moon didn’t seem that visibly red, here. To the naked eye, it looked a lot darker than the orange-red you see in most photos. Of course, this might also be due to the very thin layer of cloud cover that was still present.
And here we come to the happiest I was all night- the clouds shifted enough to allow me to photograph the umbral emergence.
These two shots are, by far, the best of the evening.
I was able to keep shooting until the eclipse was almost over, and the moon disappeared behind the clouds for the rest of the night.
You can see the irritating clouds here as they drifted back in, illuminated by the moonlight.
I wonder if the cloud cover didn’t add to my enjoyment of this event, just a bit. I would have been sorely disappointed if the clouds had entirely blocked my view, but each time the moon emerged, and I managed to get another shot, it felt like a moment of triumph.
I hope everyone out there got as much enjoyment out of the experience as I did, but for those who were unable to view the event, I hope my poor photos can convey the wonder I felt as I watched. Watching the lunar eclipse drives home the fact that yes- I am standing on a spherical object, suspended in space, and we can actually observe the shadow it casts for ourselves. Anyone can observe the reality.
I hope to record other celestial events in the future. Until then, happy stargazing.