Lunar Eclipse, December 21, 2010

"It was a cold, and snowy night; the moon was full, and ready..."

These are the best of the several photos I took on the morning of December 21st, 2010, about 1:15 to 1:50AM, of the Lunar Eclipse, such as could be seen from the Mid-est part of the MidWest: the middle of the City in the middle of the County in the Middle of the State in the middle of the Mid-West. Which means nothing to astronomers; all they ask is: Did you see it? Did you get a documented photograph? Well, yes, and no.

The cloud cover was heavy all night, with only spots of clear in them, although the first 15 minutes of my observation provided a fairly clear view with a slight hazy overcast. But then the clouds rolled in thick, and I had to wait for many minutes for an opening, and then an opportunity; and finally the overcast was obviously continuous, so I stopped my efforts. Even so, these photos are here because at a last moment, I decided to take a peek outside, and obtained more than what I present here, but of lesser visual quality.

I recorded about 34 photographs with a small digital camera; some at 1M pixel, others at 6M. At first I was recording it by a hand-held camera, which plainly did not work; then to obtain more stability, I set the camera on top of the mail boxes in front of the house, and finally I went into the house and did what should have been done, and got a tripod; a lightweight and difficult-to-manage tripod, but nonetheless.

For some reason my 16x zoom ability got to be over 20x and maybe near 30x, which let me get these unusually large and unedited images. I don't know how I got it enlarged that much, and occasionally I could duplicated it later, but rarely, when the Auto Power Saver turned the camera off and that setting was lost. (I forgot how to turn that off in the somewhat dark of night; I rarely use that anyway).The smallest photos are at 16x.

It is unfortunate that I had not prepared things better for this event, but I believed this was to be a cloudy lost cause to begin with (and except for this rare moment, the entire night was this way), and here, there was only a small time-frame, or cloud-frame, to record anything near useful. And that, I did not have a heavier tripod, because these photos are slightly blurry, for various reasons, mostly mine.

Once on the tripod, the greatest problem was getting the camera viewfinder to keep the moon in its displayed place after such large magnification. I also had to point the camera nearly straight up, and that put the manipulation of it at a minimum. I had to kneel way down there to look at either of the view-finder abilities.

Then it was cold, but no wind, happily; and my hands were not doing well with partial gloves and one finger sticking out to click the shutter. And at that, too often some finger or such bumped some camera program button, and an odd "menu" showed up and I had to cancel that carefully. All this took much time.

The other problem was the subtle but ruinous shaking of the whole combination because of my hand on the shutter button. There is no cable connection on this one, as with other cameras. The shaking was made wore by my heartbeat after running about fixing this and that, bumping my hand in the sensitively set camera and tripod more then I expected.

Also, these were night photos, requiring more light, longer shutter times, and no movements. I could not immediately find the time delay on the camera, since that too is hardly used; and when I did find the delay, I could not find duplicate that action again. So my hand on the shutter button was moving the camera slightly, however lightly pressed, as the other hand held the adjusting bar, with it s own movements.

"So there I was,..." on my knees, in the cold and icy snow, bowing before the mighty and ever reddening Lunar Eclipse! -- begging for a pixel-crumb of image to show my astronomical friends what prowess I may have and didn't know it (and still don't). And time was running out; or, the clouds were running in, either one. But I obtained some measure of success, as seen in the one image immediately below, and its accompanying five-image pdf file, below.

I hope they are of some use, even if slightly blurry, since probably few visitors to this Site had seen this Lunar Eclipse, or any others, except by this same means: photographic reproduction. If the Reader finds these images enlightening or helpful, that would make my frosty and frustrating effort worthwhile.

Lunar Eclipse, December 21, 2010
Lunar Eclipse Dec 21 2010.pdf1.52 MB