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Supermoon and Total Lunar Eclipse – September 28th 2015

September 28, 2015 Leave a comment

IMG_0336Supermoon at 12:19 am 28/9/15 Equinox ED80 Canon 350d @ prime focus

OK so I am going to try and update this post tonight as the combined supermoon and total lunar eclipse progress. The post may become more incoherent as tiredness takes over, but we will see how far we get ! If you don’t know what I am talking about and you live in the UK, Western Europe, West Africa, Greenland, Iceland or North America then take a look at the info. here Astronomy Now Magazine – Total Lunar Eclipse

Tonight we have a rare treat. The Moon is currently at perigree ie. it’s closest approach to Earth in its elliptical orbit. This means that the Moon will appear approximately 8% larger than normal and this event is popularly referred to as a ‘supermoon’. But there’s more ! The Moon is also aligned fully within the Earth’s shadow and will therefore darken dramatically to a deep brownish red colour at totality between 3.11am and 4.23am (BST). The red colour is caused by light from the Sun passing through Earth’s atmosphere around the edge of the globe. The blue light of our atmosphere is scattered more easily, but the red light of the various sunsets and sunrises around the edge makes it through and is projected onto the surface of the Moon.

Currently the sky is clear and the supermoon looks fantastic over the roof of our house. I have a Skywatcher Equinox ED 80 refractor mounted on an EQ6 equatorial mount which is computer driven so that it tracks the Moon. Photographs are being taken with my rather ancient Canon 350D DSLR mounted directly onto the telescope tube at prime focus and  using the telescope as the lens. Focusing is a bit hit and miss with this setup as the 350D does not have a Liveview that you can zoom so I have to get the focus set up as close as possible via the small viewfinder and then view each shot zoomed in, re-focus, take another shot and view zoomed in it etc. until the focus looks good.

The eclipse action starts at 1.12am (BST) when the Moon starts to enter the Earth’s shadow in the penumbral phase. We won’t notice anything until 2.07am (BST) though when the umbral phase begins and we see the Earth’s shadow creep across the top left limb of the Moon.

UPDATE 4.28 am….. Well the live thing didn’t work out as I had to constantly monitor the setup and change the camera exposure settings throughout to capture the full red colouring and change of light. Have to say that was bloody fantastic to watch !!! 4.15 am and I am still wide awake with excitement 🙂 Anyway here are a few photos through to maximum  totality at 3.47am and beyond…..

IMG_03442.26 (BST) Quarter Shadow

IMG_03482.54 (BST) Half Shadow

IMG_03613.16 (BST) Red colouring appears

IMG_03633.21 (BST)

IMG_03683.28 (BST)

IMG_0383Maximum Totality 3.59 (BST)

IMG_03864.01 (BST)

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90% Solar Eclipse over Mid Wales 20th March 2015

March 20, 2015 2 comments

hadisk1alt23Above: Ha view with single sunspot region 2303 visible and some curving wispy filaments

The Sun is throwing an embarrassment of riches at me this week with a first ever view of the aurora on Tuesday night and now a perfect blue-sky view of the 90% solar eclipse from the front garden ! I was well prepared this time with all batteries charged up and a ‘Plan B’ mobile solution which could be powered from the car if the notorious local river fog blotted out the view. The weather conditions turned out to be perfect though with early cloud passing over from the north west leaving a clear blue sky completely through the eclipse event from first to last contact. The whole event lasted between 8.40am and 10.40am with maximum coverage at our latitude of just over 90% at 9.30am.

The neighbours gathered around close to the maximum and watched via the video footage on the laptop screen while I captured footage via the DMK41 mono video camera on the Coronado PST Ha and CaK scopes mounted on the EQ6 drive. It was a very pleasant event and everyone had a good view. There was a terrific quality of light at maximum with lots of long shadows cast across the landscape and a deep navy blue sky.

The images are all single frames selected from the 1000 frame footage of the videos as my stacking software (Registax 6) has issues with aligning points when both the sun and moon are moving relative to each other in the video footage. Even so I am very pleased with the results which make up a fine record of the event.

caksun1alt3Above: CaK View with Sunspot region 2303 visible

hadisk4alt

hadisk5maxaltAbove: 9:30am Maximum coverage for our latitude at just over 90%

hadisk6minaltAbove: Near last contact at 10:38am – just a small bite out of the sun at bottom left

haproms1alt2Above: Some fine prominences on the limb