Clear skies across nearly all of Australia tonight will, no doubt, ensure that tomorrow's paper and tonight's Blogs are full of the Lunar Eclipse.
I thought I would start with the Full Moon, newly risen. It is seen here, through power lines, behind the Old Cheese Factory in Robertson, just after it had risen above the horizon.
Having taken the first photo, I continued out to "Ocean View", and just managed to catch enough light in the sky to show the Ocean, and Lake Illawarra, some lights down on the coast, and the newly risen moon.
Here you can see light reflected from the ocean's surface from the bright moon. There is a wisp of cloud underneath the Moon. Several street lights are visible, down on the coast edge, and then the moonlight is visible, reflected from the ocean's surface.And now we can concentrate on the Full Moon itself. Photo taken at about 6:30 pm.
After 7:30pm, the Moon started to move into the earth's shadow, blacking out the Full Moon's face, from the bottom-left side first. Partial eclipse - approx 60% of the development of the full eclipse.
This is the last glancing light on the top edge of the moon's surface. The colour effects on the face of the Moon are becoming visible, as there is no longer the harsh contrast of the fully bright sunlit Moon surface, to cause our pupils to retract (because of the brightness of the strip of lit up surface of the Moon).
Here is the fully eclipsed Moon. It was reddish, but not the blood red which some commentators had predicted.
David Young suggested that I try opening my lens right back, and going for a really long exposure, to see if I could get some stars behind the moon. This was taken on 15 seconds exposure (thanks to the loan of David's spare tripod).There was another shot, with 30 second exposure, but unfortunately, with such a long exposure, you get movement of the stars, blurring the image. But it did show many more stars than are visible in this image.
After 9:30 pm, the moon eventually started to move back out of the shadow of the Earth. Here you can just see the lower right hand edge of the moon being illuminated by the sun. (Sorry it is so blurry, but working in the dark I found it very difficult to get the adjustments of aperture and exposure time right.Towards the end of the eclipse, the moon is about 75% fully lit by the Sun's rays again. My lack of astronomical knowledge annoys me, for I cannot explain why the Moon's eclipse travels across the face, from bottom left, and the light returns from bottom right. In other words, the shadow does not appear to move directly over the face of the Moon. It is this conundrum which makes me publish these two photos of very poor quality, just to demonstrate the way the light returns to the face of the moon - from bottom right first.
Finally, the moon is restored to its full brilliance, high in the crystal clear sky. This last shot was taken on smallest aperture, and the fastest setting available to me on my camera.
We certainly had a pleasant gathering in Hampden Park, with about 20 people gathered in the dark to observe the lunar eclipse through Chris's Newtonian Telescope which gave me a view of the Moon which I have never seen before - as big as a dinner plate, it seemed to be. This large telescope sits on a "Dobsonian mount" which is remarkable for its stability and easy of adjustment.
Apparently we need to wait until 2011 before there will be another Lunar Eclipse, and, that one will not occur until the early hours of the morning, so tonight's eclipse was special, as it was so generally accessible to kids, in view of its early evening timing. See you all again, in 4 years time!