Tuesday, September 29, 2015

OT - the Lunar Eclipse of 28 September 2015 from Leiden

click image to enlarge

Leiden had clear skies during the night of September 27-28, which meant a good view of the total Lunar Eclipse in the early morning of September 28.

For me, this eclipse occurred mostly at rooftop level, with the moon sinking from 34 degrees elevation at first contact with the umbra, to 11 degrees elevation at last contact with the umbra. During mid-totality, at 2:47 UT (4:47 am local time), the moon was at 21 degrees elevation, just disappearing behind the rooftops for me.

After setting up my Celestron C6, I could use the telescope until about 2:40 UT, when the moon disappeared behind the rooftops. I then went to my girlfriend's appartment, which (from the 2nd floor) has a good view Westwards, and continued photography with simpler means during the second half of the eclipse.

click image to enlarge: it is worth it!  See text for details

There I shot a series of images with the Canon EOS 60D and the EF 2.5/50 mm Macro lens on a tripod. 14 of these images, shot in 5-minute intervals, where then stacked to create the image above, which shows the second half of the eclipse from 03:15 UT to 04:20 UT, i.e. from late totality until just before last contact with the umbra. The lens was set at F5, camera on 250 ISO, and exposure times were 4 seconds at the start of the series, and 0.5 seconds at the end. It shows that you don't need a telescope to get nice pictures.

Of course, a telescope does allow for very fine pictures. Below are some results from the first half of the eclipse, taken with my Canon EOS 60D through my Celestron C6 (15 cm F/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain with F6.3 focal reducer):

Moon in penumbra, 01:04 UT, just before first contact with umbra
(1/200 second, 100 ISO) click image to enlarge

Entry in umbra progressing (1/50 second, 100 ISO), 01:30 UT
click image to enlarge

Four minutes before totality (3.2 seconds, 200 ISO), 02:06 UT
click image to enlarge

Totality, 02:32 UT (10 seconds, 800 ISO). Note two stars near top lunar disc
click image to enlarge

This was a rather dark eclipse, to my estimate at the edge of L1/L2 on the Danjon Scale. The best moment for me was just before totality, when the moon sat just above the roof as a dark red-purple globe with a bright crescent on the lower edge: it looked a bit like Mars with a polar cap this way.

And by the way: NO! I refuse to go along with that "Super Blood Moon" nonsense. Puh-Lease!!!!

The "Blood Moon" denomer is actually of very questionable origin. It is not (contrary to what some people seem to think) an old folkloristic name for a Lunar eclipse, but is a denomer coined only a few years ago by two American Christian religious doomsday fanatics, who prophecied that the tetrad (series of four lunar eclipses each six months apart) starting with the eclipse of April 15, 2014 and ending with this eclipse of September 28, 2015, were a sign of the End of Times being near. They got their inspiration for this name from a sentence in the Bible, in the Book of Revelations.

Unfortunately, it seems everything in our modern society has to be expressed in ridiculous hyperbole nowadays. Ad to that media ignorant of the origin of the denomer "Blood Moon" with some religious crackpots, and you end up with horrible abominations like "Super Blood Moon" for what in essence was a nice and impressive, but in itself not particularly distinctive or rare Lunar eclipse...

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