Lunar Eclipse Viewing with Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit
By Robert Bernstein
Here are a few photos I took of the total lunar eclipse last night!
The Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit (SBAU) is our local astronomy club, which is also affiliated with the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. They sponsored viewing of this rare astronomical event in the plaza near the Camino Real Cinemas in Goleta. Members brought their personal telescopes that are as good or better than telescopes at some local educational institutions.
Hundreds of people passed through during the viewing time from around 8:00 to 11:00PM and peeked through the telescopes or watched with their own eyes and learned information from SBAU volunteers.
In my case, I was eager to try out my new used Sony RX10 Mark IV camera I got at Ebay! I put it on a tripod that my wife found abandoned by the street in our neighborhood! There was a lot of light pollution being at the shopping center, but it was still fun to be out there among friends.
Here is how the moon looked as it just cleared the trees at 8:15PM
Here you can see the last little spot of light on the moon at 8:26PM just before totality
And then, totality!
Totality lasted for over 80 minutes! The above photo was taken at 9:15PM. Notice the two stars near the moon. The husband-wife team of Chuck and Pat McPartlin explained that these stars are in the constellation Libra. One is Zubeneschamali which means "Northern Claw" in Arabic. The other is Zubenelgenubi which means "Southern Claw". You might wonder what claws have to do with the scales of Libra. The "claws" used to be part of the constellation Scorpio which did have claws. Until they were stolen to be part of Libra.
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) divides the sky into 88 constellations so that every star can be located in a familiar and identifiable context.
Chuck also explained that much of the red color of the moon is due to a volcano that erupted in Tonga in December, throwing dust high into the atmosphere. He thinks the war in Ukraine may also be adding to the dust in the atmosphere. There is just one atmosphere on our fragile planet. What happens in one place soon spreads worldwide.
This photo was taken at 9:31PM as some light is starting to return to the moon. Notice how Zubeneschamali has a blue tint.
At 9:53 I took this photo which shows light more clearly returning to the moon. You can see three stars in this photo.
After that you can see light slowly sweep across the moon as I took more photos until 10:30PM
I have photographed such events in the past and have come to the conclusion that the best technique is to go with the lowest possible ISO setting for the camera. This reduces noise. This also means using long exposures. Most of my exposures were 5-10 seconds long. A tripod is essential. And it is necessary to use a 2 second timer release so that the shutter press did not cause a vibration.