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Full Lunar Eclipse (August 28, 2007)

August 28th, 2007 by Maxim · 6 Comments · 4,170 Views

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Yours truly stayed up all night to watch and make pictures of the Lunar eclipse.

It was gorgeous! I took my 15×60 binoculars, Canon 20D camera with tripod and 300mm zoom image-stabilizing lens, and went out to the warm summer night. The eclipse began a little later then predicted. At 12:52am there was nothing but a dark blur over the upper-left side. So I went indoors for another 30 minutes. Good idea since sprinklers came on.

I came back out with all the gear at around 1:30am and began to shoot pictures.

You can see the entire album here: including bad ones. I thought I’d include them too in case you want to learn from my mistakes.

Feel free to leave your comments, but be nice!

I was playing with the camera trying different settings and trying with or without ND filter and circular polarizer. In the beginning of the eclipse the moon was still very bright, and all pictures were not coming out well: the moon was a bright white dish without any features. I looked through binocular and I could make out craters and seas quite well. I tried to reduce exposure and ISO. Eventually I began to get quite good results with aperture set to 5.6, ISO to 100-200 and exposure to 400-500. As the moon got more into the Earth’s shadow, I had to increase exposure, but kept aperture at 5.6. With longer exposure one has not to move or breathe even, as slightest camera shake was ruining the image. Also, the Moon was moving quite fast across the sky. It is very visible at high zoom ratio: even as I was focusing the lens, the Moon was managing to move out of focus. I also set the camera to 5 second shutter timer. That way I wasn’t shaking camera when pressing the shutter release button.

Overall the show lasted for about 2 hours. Then I went indoors again to write this post and look at my pictures on the computer.

Even if you don’t like them, I had a great night anyway. I hope you enjoy watching them them though as much as I enjoyed making them on the beautiful summer night!

If you liked this post, buy me a beer

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Karen // Aug 28, 2007 at 5:34 am

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    Thanks for posting the pictures. I live in New see a tEngland and got up at 5:45 in hopes of seeing the beginning of the total eclipse, but the moon was so low that I couldn’t even find it behind all the trees and houses! Plus the sky was already light, etc. What a waste. So I’m glad to see some pictures, at least!

  • 2 tbf // Aug 28, 2007 at 8:38 am

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    great review! i’m so sad that i missed it. if you do a lot of long exposure work another thing you might want to get is a remote shutter release– i have one for my old canon rebel slr– they’re great for when those times when either you need to stand away from the camera or release the shutter without moving the camera.

  • 3 Maxim // Aug 28, 2007 at 9:36 am

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    Thanks for the comments. Although remote release would make my life easier, I don’t mind using the delay timer. The real problem is that camera+lens are very heavy and they need a really good tripod. Mine is flimsy. Considering that the Moon moves across the sky so fast, I had to readjust tripod every minute or so, and sometimes I could actually see the lens moving after the tripod was adjusted as plastic and aluminum parts continue to adjust. That, more then anything else was a pain and forced me to use shorter exposures. At that zoom ratio every little thing is noticeable.

  • 4 Maxim // Oct 27, 2007 at 7:10 pm

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    I always wanted to get a telescope. Since I don’t know anything about astronomy, I needed a GO-TO telescope, or one with a go-to function. I had my eye on Meade ETX 90 or bigger, but they cost starting $800. Meade ETX 125 with UHTC coating that I really wanted costs around $1,000.

    But finally I got some savings together and bought a refurbished ETX 125 AT. It came with deluxe tripod, a 26mm eyepiece, viewfinder and Autostar computer. I was watching Moon couple of times and it was amazing. The Moon is so big only about a quarter of its surface can be observed at once. I’ve also recently got a set of planetary filters and a 2-3x Barlow lens. I obviously cannot see the flag on the Moon, but I can make up contours of mountain ridges, big seas, large craters etc. Lots of fun. 1900mm / 26mm = 73x magnification: it is big enough that I can read names of cargo ships in Long Beach Harbor from about 3-4 miles away. With Barlow lense I can double or maybe even tripple that.
    I tried to use the go-to function, but I wasn’t able to calibrate it perfectly. I think the trick is to align the tripod and the telescope in the home position to North as precisely as possible. It is not clear from the manual whether it needs to be aligned to the magnetic North or true North.
    Last time I was out the cops came:
    - WHAT’S THIS?
    - it’s a telescope, sir.
    - Mars.
    - The parking lot is closed, sir. You are half hour overdue.
    - We were going to leave in about 5 minutes. The Moon looks awesome. Would you like to look, sir?
    - Ahm, the parking lot is closed and we’ll have to give you a ticket. We don’t want to do that.
    So we had to pack up and leave, but the Moon was over the horizon already and about to set, and Mars looked like another star – bright, but not large enough to even look round. At least I think it was Mars – I entirely rely on Autostar controller to pan the scope to the right spot, but like I said, I am not sure I have learned for to calibrate it using alignment stars. When I used go-to function to find the moon and track it, it was off by about 5 degrees.
    I need to buy an attachment for the telescope for my Canon DSLR – then I promise I’ll post more photos.
    Second time we were watching the moon with my guests from my balcony and it was an attention grabber for almost an hour.

  • 5 Maxim // Nov 20, 2007 at 1:45 pm

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    I’ve a follow-up for this thread:

  • 6 Maxim // Feb 20, 2008 at 1:08 pm

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    There’s another post you might like to check out: The video of the Moon through the telescope (

    There was another eclipse yesterday, February 19th 2008. Unfortunately all of Southern California was below a thick layer of clouds so I could not take any pictures. Will have to wait till 2010 for the next eclipse.

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