Total Lunar Eclipse

26th May 2021

Clear skies for the lunar eclipse and here is a selection of progress images, all taken with my DSLR 60D camera on a tripod, using a Tamron 150-600mm lens at 600mm. This was not a bulls eye eclipse, meaning the centre of the Moon did not pass directly across the centre of the Earth’s umbra (shadow).

Hence one edge of the Moon remained extremely bright, almost as though the eclipse wasn’t total, while the opposite edge was extremely dark. It was total but only just, as the image below (adapted from this NAS Eclipse web page) shows:

Lunar eclipses like this can be difficult to image because of the extreme range of luminosity encountered in a single shot. It is difficult to expose the darkness of the region in deepest eclipse (and only reflecting earthshine) while at the same time trying not to over saturate the region which is still reflecting sunlight.

I struggled to cope with the dynamic luminance range at or near totality taken with my DSLR. I haven’t yet processed the images I was taking simultaneously with my telescope but I am not expecting them to cope any better with it. I’ll be checking them tomorrow.

Anyone who has imaged a crescent Moon would know what I mean by this. It’s always a toss up whether to show detail in the bright crescent or the detail of the rest of the Moon which is weakly illuminated by moonshine. You cannot have both.

2021-05-26 Total Lunar Eclipse
Umbra 30%
1/125th sec, f/11, ISO 100,

2021-05-26 Total Lunar Eclipse 2
Umbra 50%
1/160th sec, f/11, ISO 100
2021-05-26 Total Lunar Eclipse
Umbra 75%
1/200th sec, f/11, ISO 100
2021-05-26 Total Lunar Eclipse
Umbra 95%
1.3 sec, f/11, ISO 1000

Note the sudden change of exposure as totality nears.
The double star on the left is Nu Scorpii, also called Jabbah (yes, really).
2021-05-26 Total Lunar Eclipse
Totality
1.3 sec, f/6.3, ISO 4000
2021-05-26 Total Lunar Eclipse
End of Totality
0.6 sec, f/6.3, ISO 4000

Note 1 : I shot some of the images off-centre to capture the nearby stars which became visible at or near totality after I had switched to a very high level of ISO.

Note 2: The reddish colour (never “blood red”, don’t believe the hype) of the Moon at a total lunar eclipse is caused by light being reddened as it passes through the Earth’s atmosphere before reaching the Moon.

Note 3: The stars visible in the last three images are all around 4th-6th magnitude.

Note 4: All images are uncropped.

Images © Roger Powell


Imaging Details

Camera: Canon 60D DSLR
Lens: Tamron Ultrasonic SP 150-600mm f5-f/6.3
Software: Digital Photo Professional & Gimp.
Observatory location: 34° South.

Thanks for reading!


I’m one of the founder members of Macarthur Astronomical Society and current webmaster.


6 Comments

  1. Very nice. I’ve photographed a number of lunar eclipses in past years and they look pretty much like that. I assume the telescope images will show more details. Glad you had clear skies.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very nice shots, Roger. I’m glad the weather cooperated. I wasn’t expecting to get any view of the eclipse from the middle of the US due to clouds. We were on the road, too. Tuesday evening we checked into our hotel. I asked for a room on the top (3rd) floor facing west in hopes the sky would be cleared enough for an early morning view. It had rained off and on most of the day as we drove. At 5:41am I gingerly raised the shade trying not to wake my wife. To my surprise, I could see it was about 75% covered and <10˚ above the horizon. Haze and very thin clouds made it dim. It was a nice treat to start the day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I like hearing other peoples experiences and that’s a nice story, showing the foresight to get an early morning view through the hotel window! Lunar eclipses are a great show and I made sure I had plenty of time between photographs to have a good visual too.

      Like

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