Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Eclipse Time

Early this morning (Aug. 28), I watched the lunar eclipse. It's always cool to watch one of these, whether it be a partial or full eclipse like this one was.

One of the things I noticed about the eclipse was the speed at which light disappeared. Prior to the start of the eclipse, I went outside and the light from the full Moon was extremely bright. Outside of reading, there was much I would not have been able to do in that light.

However, as the eclipse progressed, I went outside before the darkest part of the shadow touched the moon and light had been drastically reduced. Then, as the dark shadow, known as the umbra began moving over the Moon, the light outside was barely casting a shadow at the halfway mark. Previous eclipses I have watched, there was still a bit more light to see by, but not during this eclipse.

The really strange site came as the entire moon was overtaken by the umbra. For a few minutes, a beautiful copper ball hung in the night sky. Then about 3 am PST, the Moon seemed to disappear. It really wasn't "gone," but very little light was being reflected back to it from Earth. It took a bit of an effort to locate it in the sky. This condition didn't last long, and soon, the familiar copper colored globe became easier to see.

I have never seen a Moon get that dark during an eclipse. The shadowed Moon stayed dark and coppery for slightly more than an hour, when the bright, white light began to glow in the upper left part of the globe. As more and more of the Moon's surface was reintroduced to the bright light of the sun, more and more of the shadows of night began to disappear. Then, towards 5 am, all was normal with the world again.

I tried to take some photos during the eclipse, but my gear wasn't up to the task. I was able to get some halfway shots at the beginning, but images of totality escaped me. So did images of halfway at the end. I got the shots, but the images are out of focus...badly out of focus. And I did get shots of totality, but my properly exposed images are blurred from lunar motion and my underexposed images are so noisy from pumping up the shadows, that the photos just ain't worth doing anything with.

But I did see the eclipse and plan to watch the next one on Feb. 21 of next year. And that will be the last one until Dec. 21, 2010.

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