Gold Canyon, Az

Gold Canyon, Az
New Years Day 2015, Gold Canyon, AZ

Monday, February 12, 2018

Super Blue Blood Moon

The early AM of Jan 31 I was fortunate to be in a geographic location that allowed me to enjoy a once in a lifetime event.  The Super Blue Blood moon.  
First some definitions:  
Super because the moons orbit brings it a bit closer to the earth making it appear bigger and  coincides with a full moon.  I understand it is hardly noticeable but still....bigger.  Usually the best time to see the full effect is when the moon is clearing the horizon and you have trees, mountains or roof tops to compare it to; 
Blue because it was the second full moon of the month.  Statistically we see a Blue moon every 2.7 years however some locations will get a Blue moon in January and again in March with no full moon in February;   
Blood because of the colour of the moon caused by the lunar eclipse when the moon passes into the shadow of the earth.   
Last Super Blue Blood Moon 1866
Next Super Blue Blood Moon 2037.  Only 19 years to wait.
Enough for the science lesson. 

I set my alarm for 4:30 AM and hoped for clear skies.  The previous evening we had some high cloud cover but the clouds were supposed to clear in time to start seeing the lunar eclipse.  By 5:00 I was out on the parking pad next to the trailer bundled up in a heavy jacket, gloves and a hat with a travel mug full of Timmies best.  A bit nippy at that time, even in Arizona.   
I set my camera up on the tripod, deactivated the auto focus and set the shutter for a 2 second delay to avoid camera shake when I depressed the shutter.  When the subject is 238,900 miles away and I'm working with a max zoom of 200mm its real hard to get a crisp image.  Especially when I'm going to severely crop the final results and both the earth and moon are in motion.  Given that my exposures would be anywhere from 5 seconds up to a minute a crisp picture of the moon was not in the cards.  This is where I need a telescope with one of these adapters where the camera body can be mounted directly into the telescope.  Maybe if I start saving my nickels I can have that hardware in place for the next Super Blue Blood Moon in 19 years.   

Mark wandered over at about 5:00 with his binoculars, which reminded me that we also had a pair.  I hustled into the trailer and dug ours out.  Then I started snapping pics.  Since I don't have a lot of experience taking night time photography I figured the best chances of getting at least one good picture was volume with plenty of bracketing of f-stops, shutter speed and ISO.  As they say, even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and again.  

The pictures will show the progression of the eclipse and the changing colour of the moon as it nears total eclipse.  The pictures are heavily cropped and I played a bit with the exposure in post editing to provide the best effect but the colours are pretty much what I saw with the naked eye.  In fact the pictures don't quite do justice to what I saw either for clarity or colour.  The best view was through the lens of the binoculars.  

Here we go.   

This is actually a shot of the Super Blue moon on the evening of January 1.
It was cloudy on the evening of Jan 30 so no pictures available.
 I went back in my archives to pull out this picture.

5:00 AM Jan 31.  The beginning of the eclipse 

The same as above.
The halo is an effect of the exposure and my playing with some editing features

Getting close to 50%

The blueish colour is due to me playing with editing features. 

By this time we were starting to see a pinkish colour through the binoculars

Now the camera lens is starting to pick up the colour change

Now were talking.  Only gets bloodier from here. 

Almost total

Total Eclipse. Moon is setting and can barely see trunk of palm tree on the right.
Have to move the tripod again. 

A little underexposed provides a much deeper colour. 

Predawn light and light clouds close to the horizon are starting to play havoc 

Afraid thats it.  Clouds are now blocking part of the moon and sun will be up soon.

Never did see the other half of the eclipse due to the low clouds and the predawn light in the sky.   Time to freshen up my coffee and perhaps try to catch a few Zzzzzzzz.  

Next up, who, who who is that up in the tree.