Now, I like a good lunar eclipse as much as the next astrophotography-loving guy, but I have to admit that I’m not dedicated enough to sit up all night in 30-degree weather to capture one. Taking the lazy-man’s route, at the last minute last night I decided to photograph the lunar eclipse, so set up both tripods and tried to ‘guess’ where the moon would be at 1:46AM. The main image I wanted to get was the moon traversing the sky over Golden as the eclipse progressed, though I knew that due to anthropomorphic constraints (read: house in the way), I couldn’t get the entire event from my vantage point.
Using the TerraLapse techniques I’ve been developing for daytime shooting (not-so-ironically on the subject matter for which the techniques were originally developed, astrophotography), I got the composite image put together this morning. It’s a lot easier and quicker with a mere 40+ images compared to the hundreds I’m often working with in daytime time-lapse compositing.
This first image was my main goal, and I think it came out as well as possible for an un-manned camera (accidentally set to a semi-automatic exposure mode). The set of 40 images span 6 hours (8:16PM to 2:16AM, when the moon left the field of view). You can see the planet Mars above the moon, with the star Spica immediately below the moon (the star Spica has recently ‘starred’ in a wide variety of astrophotographic endeavors, most notably Comet ISON’s path prior to its demise rounding the sun). The moon begins just above South Table Mountain’s “Castle Rock”, with the last visible image of the moon over Mt. Zion and Lookout Mountain (Golden, Colorado):
- Canon 5D MkIII w/EF 16-35/2.8L II, at 16mm
- Aperture Priority at f/8, 0.8 to 3.2 sec, ISO 400, -4 EV
- Time interval 10 minutes
The second set of 43 images I captured was a bit more closeup, with only sky in the frame, and spans 3 hours and 30 minutes (11:48PM to 3:18AM). I this image Mars is again above the moon, Spica right beneath, while late in the sequence Saturn comes into view from the bottom left:
- Canon 1D MkIII w/EF 24-105/4L, at 24mm (31mm equiv)
- Manual at 3.2 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400
- Time interval 5 minutes
Unfortunately I didn’t get this one framed perfectly, but it worked out well enough. Three more full lunar eclipses for North America in the next 18 months, so we all several more opportunities to nail it!