Lunar Eclipse | Images | Tetrad Part 4

We left central Illinois well before sunset. It was overcast. The prospects for seeing the lunar eclipse were not very good. As we headed northwest toward our home in eastern Iowa, the skies showed signs of improvement. Minutes before the Sun set, it shined brightly through a big opening in the clouds. That was a good sign.

Driving west on I-80, we could see brightness in the east behind the few remaining clouds indicating that the full Moon had risen. We stopped for a driver change. There was the Moon just entering the shadow of the Earth. I periodically rotated the rearview mirror up to take a peek at the eclipsing Moon behind us. Eclipse in progress.

After we unpacked the car, I put my camera on a tripod on the front porch. This first shot showed the Moon about 50% into the umbra. Notice the curve of the Earth’s shadow. It gives a sense of the relative sizes of the Moon and Earth.


Using drawing software, I added a circle to match the curvature of the umbra of Earth’s shadow.



About every 20 minutes I photographed the scene. The bright surface of the Moon still in sunlight decreased requiring an increase in exposure times. The photographs during totality needed a full 1 second.

The Moon emerged from the umbra at 10:23 pm CDT. The curvature of the umbra was visible again. Using my photo editing software, I copy and pasted each image onto the next to show the progression of the Moon through the umbra. I am very pleased with the result.



Just after getting an image at mid-eclipse, I noticed an airliner with lights blinking. I wondered if another might pass by since we are in one of those fly-over states. One was approaching the Moon. It got close enough to see it and the Moon together in this 1 second exposure.



This gallery holds the individual images used to make the composite above. Each is marked with time and exposure. All images used ISO=200 and white balance set to incandescent bulb.


24 thoughts on “Lunar Eclipse | Images | Tetrad Part 4

  1. Great job, Jim. My experience with this event included being at the Hollywood Bowl watching Grace Jones and having no pro camera or tripod to use as the eclipse occurred off tho the side and behind me. It was a surreal and beautiful moment that I enjoyed without a serious attempt to make stunning images. Nice to see yours!

  2. I love that you added the software circles and explanations. We were unsure if there’d be clouds, but we lucked out in the end. It was my first attempt at night photography and didn’t do that badly for a novice. But my settings were way off from yours. 😀 I need to practice more!

      • Much appreciated. I had my ISO set at 1600, which was fine for the full moon, but now I realize created graininess once we were in full eclipse. C’est la vie!
        I will practice more!

      • Lowering the ISO will increase the exposure time. Then a tripod is needed. I set the self timer for each exposure in order to avoid motion blur.

        Yes. Keep practicing. You aren’t wasting film. 📷

  3. Love your illustration of the umbra! Jim, I was trying to explain the “moon illusion” concept; why does it seem larger as it rises. What’s your opinion on this? I read up on the “Ponzo illusion” and then on “The Ebbinghaus illusion” (the latter states it has to do with the brain, not perception).

      • I have to admit to not reading up on the ‘illusion’ theories. It makes sense to me that it has to do with the nearness of objects on the horizon that makes it look larger and imposing. Yes, there are quite a few theories. Since they are perception based, it would be hard to confirm any of them with empirical data.

  4. What a great project — and images. It was cloudy here, and there wasn’t even a hint of a moon. Ah, well. The good news is that we can depend on people like you to provide some color commentary!

  5. These images are really impressive, Jim! That you were (are!) an educator is so evident in the way you explain things. I had no luck with this eclipse, not even a glimpse through the clouds. While I would have loved to have seen it, it was pretty cool just knowing it was going on. 🙂

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