Total Lunar Eclipse of Dec 21 2010

Scroll down for the eclipse photos taken by my Canon XS on tripod. Slightly blurry, hard to focus as the eclipsed moon was (of course) dim.

Click on each photo to enlarge
Cropped close-up at
and at the Sky and Telescope photo gallery. Both show wonderful photos from other observers in Europe and the USA.

Observing report: Here in lower Westchester County, NY, just north of New York City, we had some scattered middle clouds that became a broken deck as totality ended. Completely cloudy when I went back out at 5am – couldn’t see Venus! There were hints that we had a lot of high thin clouds, since the moon seemed less red than previous eclipses, perhaps there was more cirrus than I thought at the time.
The moon seemed darker than I expected, with only the maria visible. The altocumulus enhanced the reappearance of sunlight on the moon, which made for a nice ‘diamond ring’ effect (a term more appropriately used when the moon eclipses the sun) at the end of the total phase. At that time, when the moon peeked between between the denser clouds, it was ‘Mars-like’ with the intense white cap on top of the moon. The rest of the moon was gray with reddish areas, as opposed to Mars which is red with grayish areas.
Temperatures in the mid-upper 20s, with a light wind gusting to 15+MPH (occasionally roaring in the tree-tops) made me grateful that I bundled up.

Photo of moon and surrounding stars, just after the moon was completely in the earth’s shadow. The moon is lit by the light bent around the earth by our atmosphere.

Photo of the middle of the eclipse. The white part of the moon is nearest the edge of the earth’s shadow. It looks white because the camera has overexposed it. It really looked less bright. This photo is the one I’ve cropped to post on other web sites. Click to enlarge and then you may be to click again and recenter the photo to find the moon. This was a 2 1/2 second exposure at high sensitivity (ISO1600).

Late in the eclipse, the part of the moon nearest the edge of the shadow is brightening, making the moon look like a ice-capped Mars.
Notice the clouds thickening up in the background.

Another late eclipse shot….

Five second exposure showing a kind of diamond ring effect as the moon comes out of the center of the earth’s shadow. I used a different color balance.

Shorter exposure a minute later, followed by various exposures as the earth’s shadow moved off the moon.

Some camera effects in this photo – the overexposed sunlit part of the moon and the underexposed part is still in shadow (you can see some detail in the full sized version). The ‘extra’ crescent is a reflection of the sunlit part of the moon off a clear filter I use to protect the lens from dust and damage.


2 responses to “Total Lunar Eclipse of Dec 21 2010

  1. As much as I wanted to, I didn’t venture outdoors to see the eclipse because of the cloudy/cold conditions here in Asheville NC. I did however wake up out of a sound sleep at precisely 1:33 AM. How cool is that? The eclipse woke me up. The Universe works in mysterious ways, yes? Thanks for the photos.

    • Thanks for the comments on my Heads UP! blog! A number of folks on the NYTimes blog noted that something woke them up to see the eclipse, but then many slept right through. It’s hard to get up in the middle of a sleep cycle. I didn’t feel well for most of the day afterwards. I was lucky to see it, many of our club members, even nearby, were clouded out. The next one is 2014, also in the early morning. Oh, that all the great sky events could occur in Prime Time.

      all the best,

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