Lunar eclipse

We were fortunate to have good weather when North America was treated to a full lunar eclipse this morning. It was expected to occur an hour or more before sunrise, as the moon set in the west. Using PhotoPills as a planning tool, I didn’t think I’d have a great view from my backyard, so I arranged to meet a colleague at a location on the Dartmouth campus – a location that has a great view to the west, with Dartmouth’s iconic Baker Tower in frame.

The moon, at upper right, during a full lunar eclipse – Baker Tower and the Dartmouth campus.
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Hunter’s moon

Full moon and fall foliage.

I was out at sunset tonight, driving some of the back roads of Hanover and Lyme, New Hampshire… just to see what I might encounter. Many of the trees are at their peak fall color, and I thought I might find some interesting scenes during the late-afternoon glow. I headed out too late, though, and the sun had set on the interesting locations… but as I rolled along a dirt road I suddenly pulled to a stop when a huge yellow moon appeared over a grassy meadow.

I waded into the grass and attempted to capture the incredible beauty of this moment… but my photos can’t even come close. The chill of the fall evening was settling in fast, the fall foliage retained a bit of post-sunshine glow, the moon seemed extra-large, and the sky had that deep blue only possible at twilight. I had no tripod along, but managed some hand-held photos.

As a photographer the challenge was clear: my eyes have much greater dynamic range than the camera can capture. I was able to see and enjoy the colors of the fall foliage and the detail in the moon – but the camera could only expose properly for the foliage or the moon. I bracketed the exposure in hopes of an HDR merge later, at home… but I’m still learning the Canon R5 and bracketed via ISO and, duh, that was pointless. (The HDR photos were full of noise.)

I hopped back in the car and headed further along the dirt road, deeper into the forest, deeper into the night. Again I encountered something worthy of a sudden stop … a beautiful barred owl, perched perfectly on a branch beside the road. I could not wish for a better photographic pose… except that it was now so dark (even with my high beams focused on it) that every photo I took was more noise than owl. Someday… some day I will capture good photos of an owl!

Meanwhile, let’s enjoy the full moon. Technically, the full moon occurs tomorrow afternoon (around 4pm EDT on 9 October)… so we’ll have two nights of a moon that appears full.

Lunar eclipse

A glimpse too late.

I woke suddenly as the cat jumped onto the bed and leapt over my face to get to the other side. He likes that side, as it makes a good vantage point to look out the window and survey his territory. Following his gaze, I noted it was still quite dark – too dark to be yet awake – but with a sky more clear than had been forecast. I rolled over for a better angle and, yes, there she was, the full moon setting into the west. A partial lunar eclipse had begun a couple hours earlier, and I was fortunate to be able to see it still underway. Apparently, this was the longest eclipse of its kind in 580 years.

By the time I fetched my cameras – I was unprepared because the forecast was for clouds and even some snowfall – the moon had settled behind thick clouds. I waited, not too patiently I might add, because the eclipse was rapidly fading behind those clouds. When the moon re-emerged, I snapped a quick photo in which you can barely discern the remaining eclipsed portion at lower right.

At the tail end of a lunar eclipse, the remaining occluded portion of the moon is visible but also occluded by a bit of cloud.

The moon disappeared behind more clouds and the branches of a leafless tree. When it reemerged, and I had relocated outdoors, the beaver moon shone again in its full glory. Exposure was tricky, and I never got it right before the moon set behind its final cloud bedding for the night.

Full moon setting after a lunar eclipse.

I used a Nikon D500 with a Nikon 200-500mm f5.6 lens. For more impressive photos – from better prepared, better located, better skilled photographers, check out this space.com site.