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11/30/-1
    
Tuesday, August 28th, 2007
August '07 Lunar Eclipse
 
I decided to forget about sleep and jolt myself with caffeine to stay up for at least the first complete half of the eclipse. From my viewing location (my driveway) I have both tall trees and Portland 's light bubble directly to the south. I wasn't sure if the start of the eclipse would clear the trees though I knew I would have a clear view of the totality.
 
Asteroids To Pass The Time 
While my scope gear was set up and the action didn't start until about 1:50, I opted to view some asteroids in the area. I set up in the best place to see the eclipse to the south-southwest, which meant that I had essentially no view anywhere else.
 
Hesperia - Wikipedia info
I didn't know anything about this asteroid other then it was at a manageable magnitude and in the right region of the sky. I couldn't see it due to the brightness of the Moon and the glow from Portland, so I took a picture of it.
See Gallery below for image
 

Menippe - Wikipedia Info
I also didn't know anything about this asteroid either other then it was at a manageable magnitude and in the right region of the sky. Also, I couldn't see it due to the brightness of the Moon and the glow from Portland, so I took a picture of it as well.
See Gallery below for image
 
I've only looked at an asteroid one other time. I suppose they are not very interesting as they just look like stars, but it's pretty cool to know that what you are seeing is actually a solar system object that is much smaller and much closer then the other similar looking objects in the field.


The Eclipse 
I was very surprised when at about 1:40 the Moon cleared the trees and within minutes started to enter into the penumbra. My camera on the refractor was ready, my Moon filter was set in the eyepiece of the Dob and I was ready for the evening's action.
 
Not only did I want to have a fun observing session, both naked eye as well as through the telescope, but I also wanted to generate two very specific pictures. One of the Moon in totality with as faint of stars as I could pick up in the field, and a series shot of a few phases  transitioning into the orange/red Moon (mocked up in Photoshop of course).
 
Visually 
Watching the Moon slowly creep into the Earth's shadow was stunning. Once the Moon entered into totality it was very orange.  I noticed that with the Moon filter on the eyepiece they Moon was more gray, so I removed it and it was the most incredible lunar view I've ever seen. It was easy to look at, fine surface detail (for observing a full Moon), and in the 35mm Panoptic in the 12" Dob the stars that framed the field of view was just amazing. I don't think I've ever looked at the Moon and noticed stars in the field. Especially that many. There were at least a dozen stars in the field.
 
While this eclipse was happening, there were 3 particularly interesting things that I noticed:
 
1) The terminator of the Moon's shadow normally creates a great deal of contrast and shadows allowing us to see detail of the Moon's surface. But since the Moon was full and the terminator is the Earth's shadow it kept an eerie flatness to the surface revealing no more detail then looking at it when its normally full. It was a strange sight to see.
 
2) As the Moon became more and more engulfed in the Earth's shadow, the stars became brighter and more abundant. It continued this way until I could see the Milky Way - on a full Moon night! It was simply spectacular.

3) While the umbra was starting to darken the Moon, probably due to the brightness of the Moon, the shadow was very dark. But once the Moon was about 80% in, the shadow started to take on a orange hue. And once the Moon was in totality, it was completely orange. Since it was not in the direct center of the Earth's shadow, it was gradiated from a lighter, peach color to a deep orange/red across the surface. 

 
Photographically 
With the Moon in the full shadow of the Earth, I took the picture I've been waiting all night for. The orange Moon with the stars in the field. In this image, the Moon was about 15 minutes into totality and the faintest stars are just under 13th magnitide.
See Gallery below for image
 
 
I set the camera to take a picture every 5 minutes for 60 minutes to get 12 pictures of the various phases. If I were more experienced, then I would have known to change the shutter speed and ISO setting as the  Moon got darker. I missed that part, so maybe next time I'll get a better image. Here is the totality image with 3 staggered phase shots.See Gallery below for image
 
 
This night, both visually and photographically was well worth staying up for.


Image Gallery For This Session
Hesperia Lunar Eclipse Sequence lg
Lunar Eclipse with Stars lg Menippe
   

Hesperia.jpg
Click picture above for larger version
If the picture seems too bright or too dark, try adjusting the brightness below.
Brightness:
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