Friday, June 25, 2010

Observing Tonights Partial Lunar Eclipse (June 26, 2010)

The skies should be reasonably clear in Australia for tonight's partial Lunar eclipse. Midn you soon as I had extolled the virtues of the eclpise in this mornings radio interview, the sky came over all dark and rainy. The rainbow shot was taken this morning after the interview while we were making breakfast in bed for the Bettdeckererschnappender Weisle.

But it doesn't matter so much, even if it is cloudy, because the lead-up to maxi,um eclipse, and the maximum eclipse itself, last a reasonably long while. So you can pop out and watch for gaps in the cloud, or the eclipsed Moon shining through the cloud (which would be a cool effect).

Moon as seen from Adelaide, at 19:46 Saturday 26 June 2010.

So what is the best way to watch the eclipse? Well, with the unaided eye to start with. The sight of the shadow crawling over the Moon will be awesome, and you can watch the sky darken and the stars pop out as the eclipse progresses. Over in the west, Venus, Regulus, Mars and Saturn form a line, and are a nice accompaniment to the ongoing eclipse. You may even see a satellite going over.

You can use binoculars, the eclipse will liook quite nice in binoculars, and you will be able to see the darkened part of the Moon.

In a telescope, you will notice that the Earth's shadow is not sharp. You can use a low power lens to see the entire Moon to best effect, or with a high power scope you can time when various craters are covered by the shadow.

Photographing the eclipse can be done with simple digital cameras. You can just point the camera through your telescope lens and press the button, that works! For binoculars though, even at maximum eclipse the Moon is too bright and the bright part will be over exposed.

For photography without a telescope, you will need a tripod or something to keep the camera steady as you take the photo. You will need to take the photo on the fastest setting you can to avoid overexposure.


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