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Subject: "Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010" Previous topic | Next topic
nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Thu 25-Nov-10 09:48 PM
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"Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
Fri 26-Nov-10 11:18 AM by nrothschild

US
          

We will have a lunar eclipse on the evening of December 20-21, 2010. Members in North America and the western side of South America will have the opportunity to photograph this total lunar eclipse in it's entirely.

The eclipse is visible at the same moment in time world-wide over the area of visibility. The only difference is your time zone and the altitude of the moon. In the Eastern time zone the moon will enter the umbral shadow (first contact-U1) at 1:33am on Dec 21, reach totality at 2:41am (2nd contact-U2), leave totality at 3:53am (3rd contact-U3) and will fully exit the umbral shadow at 5:01am (4th contact-U4). Subtract one hour from these times if you are in the central time zone, 2 hours in the mountain time zone and 3 hours in the Pacific time zone. Those on the west coast will experience this eclipse at a much more civilized time, and the moon will be generally higher in the sky during the entire eclipse. Indeed, the West Coast is within an hour of perfect timing for a lunar eclipse- it doesn't get any better than that! On the east coast the moon will be fairly low at the end of the eclipse, around 38 degrees altitude at mid-latitudes.

The best information for all eclipses will be found on Fred Espanak's eclipse site. Fred prepares Nasa's eclipse publications and chases all the eclipses world-wide. What a great job . I had the pleasure of joining Fred on a tour to view the February 26,1998 solar eclipse in Aruba. He provides some photographic advice on his page, including wide angle landscape type views that I won't address here.

I've shot the 3 lunar eclipses visible to me since mid-2004 on DSLR cameras so I thought I would offer some additional advice based on my experience.

Most people are most interested in the total eclipse phase, which lasts 72 minutes for this eclipse. That is plenty of time to figure out an exposure, and if you shoot this eclipse at home, enough time to run indoors a few times to view images on your computer, or you can bring a laptop into the field.

The most dificult obstacle to overcome is the movement of the moon. You can read my blog entry here for a comprehensive discussion about the rates of movement of the moon in the context of pixels of blur when shot from a fixed tripod. The short story is that with a 12mpx DX sensor (D300, D90, etc) the moon moves at a rate of about 1.3 pixels per second per hundred millimeters focal length. If you shoot this at 1000mm the moon will move 13 pixels per second of exposure time. At 500mm it moves about 6.5 pixels per second. For a D200 the moon moves about 1.2 pixels/100mm FL/second. For a D3X, figure the same as a D300 sensor - the sensor density is very close.

These rates are for zero degrees declination, or the mid-point of the moon's monthly travel across the celestial sphere. This being a winter solstice eclipse, the full moon, and therefore the eclipsed moon, is near the highest elevation in the sky possible for Northern hemisphere observers. That's the good news. The bad news is that even at this extreme from the ecliptic (about 23 degrees) the rate of motion only slows about 12 8%, insignificant for our purposes.

The celestial rate of motion for a 12mpx FX sensor is about 0.87 pixels per second per hundred millimeters focal length. The trade-off here is fewer pixels across the moon and for a given lunar image size in pixels, the results are the same. The FX benefits from a stop or more of improved high ISO performance but that is at least somewhat negated if a 1.4x TC is added to the optical configuration to bring the image scale back in line with the results from a DX sensor with the same pixel count. I still think the 12 mpx FX sensors have an overall advantage, given the obstacles, as I discuss below.

For most lunar photography this lunar movement is not a problem and my blog discusses how I shoot normal moons, even dimmer crescents, at 1000mm with 1/30s exposures with excellent results- from a very stable tripod and using good technique. This will also be generally true of exposures of the partial eclipse phases, where the illuminated portion of the moon will be very close to an equivalent normal partial phase of the moon. In theory, the moon enters the penumbral shadow about an hour before first contact with the umbral shadow. The penumbral shadow is a very low density shadow surrounding the main umbral shadow. In practice, my full moon shots within the umbral shadow are about the same exposure as I experience with other full moons, or somewhere between a "sunny 16" exposure and a "luney 11".

The total eclipse is different because it is very dim. The brightness of the eclipse varies based on exactly where the moon traverses the Earth's shadow and the amount of dust and debris in the atmosphere. Eclipses are particularly sensitive to volcanic dust. This eclipse is predicted to be fairly dim.

The following image of the February 20, 2008 eclipse was shot from a motorized astronomical mount that tracks the movement of the stars. I shot it with a D200 and 500 f/4 Ai-P lens, without a converter. The exposure is ISO 100 F/4 4s.



On a fixed tripod at 500mm that 4s exposure would have resulted in about 24 pixels of blur!

The Dec 2010 eclipse should be somewhat dimmer than the last eclipse in Feb 2008 so the exposure above would likely be on the high side of what we will experience this time around.

Having the luxury of a motorized mount, in principle I could have shot any reasonable shutter speed, even 30s or more. However, I did not want to press my luck and did not feel the need to stop down- the 500P is a very sharp lens wide open. We had a bout 3" of snow earlier that day, the result of a "clipper" system that moved out very quickly. It was snowing only an hour or so before the start of the eclipse! The attendant winds were a concern, as well as the fact that I had no high power guide scope attached in which I could verify the mount was tracking properly, nor was I able to properly align the mount due to the press of time. It was also uncomfortably cold . You can see some pictures of my backyard eclipse observatory here.

I chose ISO 100 because that was the base ISO of that camera (D200). Having shot several prior eclipses with DSLRs, my experience is that the eclipsed moon is quite delicate and subject to noise. I was not totally happy with prior eclipse images shot at ISO 800 or so. This is compounded by the fact that the focal lengths are often in the range where the final image is near 100% pixels just for a decent web sized image. That is a recipe for noise. On a fixed tripod I would have been forced to shoot ISO 800 to keep the shutter speed down to about 1/2s and the blur down to about 3 pixels.

The following image is a composite of the above total eclipse image and the major partial phases. I was fortunate to have been able to get a fairly complete set of images illustrating the partial phases as well as the total phase.



The partial eclipse images, exposed for the illuminated portion of the moon, were generally around 1/320s f/5.6 ISO 100. In reviewing my NEFs I see that I should have exposed the thin crescents more richly, by a stop or so.

For all lunar exposures, I use the histogram, exposing to the right such that the brightest portions of the moon fall at or slightly beyond the right side of the 3rd quadrant, resulting in a luminosity of 200 or more, but never allowing the highlights to burn (no blinkies).

The image below, shot at 1/1.3s f/4 ISO 100, exposed for the eclipsed portion of the moon and as you can see the exposure is only a stop or two less than the total eclipse exposure. I underexposed this image about one stop, probably due to concerns about the haze and optical aberrations caused by the overexposed sunlit portion. The image here was raised by 1 stop when rendering the NEF in CaptureNX 2.2. The sunlit portion of the moon is drastically overexposed by at least 10 stops and is quite a test of your optics . Any haze or thin high clouds will create unsolvable problems here.



The image above is un-cropped. You will note some haze from the less than perfectly clear air. It's unclear to me that the air could have been much better - there is almost always some thin haze in the air, even under optimal conditions. The higher the moon in the sky the less haze. You will also note a crescent shaped ghost from the illuminated portion, inverted. This is an artifact of that 500/4 Aip-P lens and I've seen this same artifact when shooting Earthshine as I discuss below. I have since upgraded to a 500/4 AFS (V1). That lens has the same aberration but appears to be significantly attenuated.

This particular ghost appears opposite the subject, relative to the precise optical center of the image, and equidistant from the frame center. The image above was shot just slightly offset to the upper left, resulting in the aberration colliding with the main image. I will address this issue in further detail below.

For all lunar imaging, I use Auto or Sunlight white balance, shoot raw and correct as necessary when rendering the NEFs. The sunlight preset is probably the most accurate.

The next composite image of two different shots below were shot from a fixed tripod during the March 3, 2007 total lunar eclipse, one at 300mm with the 300 f/2.8 AFSII, the other at 500mm with the 500/4 Ai-P. Exposures as indicated on the image. The bright dot at about 4 o'clock on the 300mm lunar limb is the star 59 Leonis, within a half second before it disappeared during a near grazing occultation. The bright dot at about 3 o'clock on the 500mm image is, unfortunately, a hot pixel that appeared in between the two images, and then disappeared after a number of subsequent frames. Both images were downsized to 65% of original pixels and then composited in one image file.

I include these two images to illustrate what is doable from a fixed tripod and D200, with a fast lens. Any image can be improved but I think I was at least near the limits of what that camera could do with those lenses.



When I switched to the 500mm lens I decreased the shutter speed to 1/2 second from 1 second, allowing for the larger apparent drift of the moon. My aperture also decreased from f/2.8 to f/4. I increased ISO from 400 to 800 to partially compensate. Interestingly, the exposures are closer than I would have thought given they are a full stop apart in EV. I did shoot a few frames at 1s but decided the blur was more than I wanted. If I were shooting this now on a D300 I would boost the ISO to 1600 to get a richer exposure. That might actually reduce the apparent noise . With a D700 I might try ISO 3200 and maybe 1/4s, but that would have to be determined while shooting and reviewing the images and histograms on the LCD.



Exposure Suggestions

If you have the luxury of a motorized astronomical mount, I would shoot at the base ISO of your camera. I would try shooting wide open and then down one stop, adjusting shutter speed for the desired richness of exposure over the eclipsed portion of the moon.

If, like most people, you are shooting from a fixed tripod then you have some difficult decisions to make in order to optimize the image. As mentioned above, the motion of the moon across the sky is your enemy. You will get some blur or you will get a lot of noise- pick the lesser evil. Here are some specific suggestions:

1. Determine how many pixels of blur you can deal with. My advice would be a shutter speed that results in 2-4 pixels of blur, depending on your expectations. You will want to bracket that shutter speed to see what delivers the best overall results.

2. DO NOT use a TC. A TC will cost you at least 1 stop, and maybe two depending on your lens. I think you are better off with a smaller image, with less noise and/or less blur.

3. If at all possible, shoot wide open. Any increase in sharpness by stopping down 1 stop will almost certainly be negated by a doubling of the blur resulting from cutting the shutter speed in half, given the same ISO.

4. If you have a choice of lenses, consider a shorter focal length but faster lens over a longer, slower lens. In my case I have a 300/2.8 and a 500/4. The 300/2.8 has a lot going for it. Or try both. You have 72 minutes to get your totality "money shot". Experiment with all the exposure settings as well as the optics. If you insist on using a TC, try some shots with and without.

5. Dress warm .

6. Bracket the total EV level of the exposure (altering shutter speed while leaving ISO and aperture fixed). A darker image may be a bit sharper.

7. Similar to the issue of the TC, if you have a choice of 12 mpx FX and DX, either try both or consider the FX. Again, the image will be smaller, but cleaner.

8. Use Mirror Up if you have it, or exposure delay if you do not have a Mirror Up option on your camera. Allow a 5s delay or longer, depending on your support.

9. If you have it, use LiveView to focus. You will not be able to focus on the fully eclipsed moon. You will be able to focus on the partial phases so the best strategy is to focus, switch into manual focus mode, and don't change it. If you lose focus you may be able to focus on a bright star or planet. Both Gemini above the moon and the belt and shoulder stars of Orion below the moon should be suitable focusing stars. My cameras and lenses will autofocus on those stars. After focusing with LiveView, change to Mirror Up. Liveview initiates not one but two mirror slaps with each exposure.

10. Use a remote release, of course. Short of that, use the self timer combined with exposure delay mode if possible.

11. Always fully retract the center column. If your tripod is not the sturdiest, hang weight from the mount and extend the legs as little as possible. My motorized mount has very short legs so I got very intimate with the cold Earth, as my web site images suggest . I used a patio lounge cushion to make the best of that problem.

12. Consider creative landscape images. For North America the moon will be very high in the sky, requiring very short focal lengths to get the moon and a landscape in the frame unless your landscape extends high in the sky (close buildings, mountains, etc.). But there is no law that says you cannot create a surreal image. I saw a very dramatic landscape image of the March 2008 eclipse, where the eclipsed moon was cut and pasted into a gorgeous scene of urban Chicago. Reality? No. Beautiful image? Yes!

How To Practice a Total Lunar Eclipse

Visible total lunar eclipses are as infrequent as every 2 or 3 years, and only last an hour or so. How do you practice for this very unusual subject and exposure? In an interesting coincidence (and it is sheer coincidence) the exposure of "Earthshine" of a crescent moon, up to about 4 days old for a new moon, and the last 4 days of the old moon, is very close if not identical to the eclipsed moon. Earthshine of a crescent moon is sunlight reflected off the surface of the Earth, to the moon and back, dimly illuminating the unlit portion. There is no significant sunlight hitting the moon during a total lunar eclipse, so no Earthshine . The faint illumination of the moon is due to a small portion of sunlight refracting around the edges of the Earth's atmosphere.

I have never bothered to try to shoot Earthshine for moons outside that 4 day range but it may be possible for a day or two beyond that. If weather or schedule does not work out, try it.

I don't often get a chance to shoot Earthshine because my home is ringed with trees and in general the topography my area has rather poor accessible views of the horizon. Early and late moons are always rather low in the sky except during very favorable seasons of the year (Spring for the new moon and Fall for the old moon). I have never had the chance to shoot it with my motorized astro mount, which is not very portable in practice and uncomfortable to use without a very sturdy table.

The following image illustrates Earthshine of a 2 day 21 hour old moon, which I consider about optimum for Earthshine. A day old moon has very weak Earthshine while a 4 day old moon has a very strong sunlit portion with decreasing relative brightness of the Earthshine . I would try to shoot the 2-4 day old moon (an evening event, just after sundown), or the moon 2-4 days from new on the old side (always an early morning event just before sunrise)

The exposure of this image, shot from a fixed tripod with a D300 and 500/4 AF-S working 500mm, was F/4 1/2s ISO 800. That is the identical EV level as the total eclipse shot above, at f/4 4s ISO 100 . And both un-illuminated portions of the moon have very similar, very delicate muted lighting although the color is very different. Earthshine is very blue while total eclipses are usually red or reddish.

This image is also un-cropped, and does not show the same aberration as the total eclipse image. This is partially due to the better optics, in this regard, of the AFS version, but also because the moon is almost perfectly centered. That aberration was probably overlaid directly on the image.



The image below was shot with the D700 and 500/4 AFS, but with an exposure of F/4 1/2s ISO 1600. This moon was 3 days 13 hours old and was shot during a close approach of the Pleiades cluster, an annual favorite of mine. It is a better image due to the increased richness of exposure, but with about the same or less noise level, commensurate with the D700's better ISO performance and slightly less movement as measured in pixels of blur.

You will note a very faint ghost, but well separated from the moon. The moral of this story is that if your lens has this sort of aberration, you want to either perfectly center the moon (difficult and tedious from a fixed tripod) or make sure it is well off center because the aberration appears the same distance from the center of the frame as the moon itself, but on the opposite side. If you center the image and have a bad enough ghost then it could effect the main image.



For the coming month, the new moon will occur on December 5, 12:35pm EST. The pre-dawn morning of December 1st and 2nd will probably have the best Earthshine. On the other side of the new moon, the evening of December 8th and 9th will likely have the best Earthine of the new moon. In all cases this is not a favorable time of the year to shoot these crescents (actually about the worst). As mentioned previously, Spring is the best time to shoot crescent new moons and early fall the best time to shoot old crescent moons. December 3rd and 7th will likely have the moon too low on the horizon this time of year. December 1st and 9th are at or near 4 days from new but I have shot good Earthshine at those ages (see above) and may be the best dates. You will need a very clear view of the horizon and a fully cloudless sky. The moon will be 10-20 degrees above the horizon at mid-latitudes at the optimum time to shoot Earthshine on the 2nd and 8th, a bit higher on the 1st and 9th.

_________________________________
Neil


my Nikonians gallery.

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Reply message RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010
laddad Gold Member
26th Nov 2010
1
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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support
26th Nov 2010
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DeanAZ Moderator Expert nature photographer
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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support
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06th Dec 2010
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laddad Gold Member Nikonian since 14th Nov 2005Fri 26-Nov-10 01:55 AM
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#1. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 0


Kinston, NC, US
          

I can't wait. You information will be invaluable. I'm thinking about using old but mint Nikon Reflex 1000mm f/11 lens.

  

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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Fri 26-Nov-10 09:45 AM
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#2. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 1
Fri 26-Nov-10 09:47 AM by nrothschild

US
          

Hi Laddie,

Do you have a motorized astro mount that can handle that lens? If not...

I would suggest you reread and carefully consider what I said about pixels of blur. Your 1000mm lens will result in 13 pixels of blur per second (1.3 *10). With an f/11 aperture your exposure will need to be something like ISO 6400 f/11 1/2s and that will result in 6.5 pixels of blur, or double the blur I got in the 4th image above, right side image at 500mm. It will be quite noisy at ISO 6400 with a D300.

I would use the 400/3.5, which is an excellent lens for this subject.

You have plenty of time to try both lenses; I think you will be happier with the results from the 400/3.5, with which you should be able to shoot a good exposure at ISO 800 f/3.5 1/2s with only 2-3 pixels of blur. I would also try ISO 1600 and 1/2s and 1/4s exposures... the idea is to trade off a bit of noise for sharpness and see which you like better.

_________________________________
Neil


my Nikonians gallery.

  

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DeanAZ Moderator Expert nature photographer Nikonian since 28th Apr 2007Wed 01-Dec-10 01:23 AM
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#3. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 0


Phoenix, US
          

What great information, Neil. I will need to read this several times, I'm sure.

Dean
Phoenix, Arizona USA
Nikonians Team Member
Website: The Splendid Silence of Light

Recent Trips: Grand Canyon 2012 Glen Canyon 2012 West Clear Creek

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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MotoMannequin Moderator Awarded for his extraordinary skills in landscape and wildlife photography Nikonian since 11th Jan 2006Sat 04-Dec-10 06:29 PM
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#4. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 0


Livermore, CA, US
          

Thanks for all that great info Neil.

Do you have any idea what FL would be required to capture a composite photo of all the phases of the eclipse?

Larry - a Bay Area Nikonian
My Nikonians gallery

www.tempered-light.com

  

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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Sat 04-Dec-10 11:11 PM
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#5. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 4


US
          

Interesting question, Larry

The eclipse will last 3 hours 29 minutes, from the first contact of the umbra to the last contact of the umbra. If the moon were at 0 degrees declination (as it would be at the equinoxes) the moon would move 15 degrees per hour, or about 52.5 degrees. The moon's monthly path is retrograde to the east to west movement of the stars but in 3.5 hours the difference is insignificant. Because the moon is at about 23 degrees declination, I think it will move 8% less than that 52 degrees (cosine of the declination in radians * movement at 0 degrees).

If you are thinking about incorporating a multiple exposure into a landscape (I know you well ), consider that the moon will be at 54 degrees altitude at the start, 62 degrees at the completion, and 75 degrees at local midnight during the eclipse, so you would need a tall mountain or building, or some such thing to incorporate it into a scene. Since this is the winter solstice, the moon will trace the same path as the sun at the summer solstice, and will pass due south when it is highest during the eclipse. It is probably the worst day of the year for a landscape

Here are some local circumstances for San Francisco, from my astronomical ephemeris software (Skymap Pro 10):

Total Eclipse of the Moon
Site information
Latitude: 37° 46' 12" N
Longitude: 122° 25' 48" W
Height above sea level: 10 metres
Time zone: 8h behind UT

Visibility
The entire eclipse is visible from this location.
Circumstances of the Eclipse
Moon enters penumbra: 2010 Dec 20 21:27:32
Moon enters umbra: 2010 Dec 20 22:32:06
Start of totality: 2010 Dec 20 23:40:10
Maximum eclipse: 2010 Dec 21 00:16:45
End of totality: 2010 Dec 21 00:53:22
Moon leaves umbra: 2010 Dec 21 02:01:27
Moon leaves penumbra: 2010 Dec 21 03:05:53

Magnitude and Duration
Umbral magnitude: 1.261
Penumbral magnitude: 2.306
Duration of total phase: 1h 13m 12s
Duration of umbral phase: 3h 29m 21s
Duration of penumbral phase: 5h 38m 21s

Moon's Altitude
Moon enters penumbra: 54.0°
Moon enters umbra: 65.6°
Start of totality: 74.7°
Maximum eclipse: 75.6°
End of totality: 72.8°
Moon leaves umbra: 62.3°
Moon leaves penumbra: 50.3°

Position Angles
Position angles, measured from the north point of the Moon's disk
First contact of penumbra: 107.1°
First contact of umbra: 114.0°
Last contact of umbra: 256.9°
Last contact of penumbra: 263.7°


Moon in the Zenith
The Moon is in the zenith at the following geographical positions
Moon enters penumbra: 23°53'N 084°00'W
Moon enters umbra: 23°50'N 099°31'W
Start of totality: 23°47'N 115°53'W
Maximum eclipse: 23°45'N 124°40'W
End of totality: 23°43'N 133°28'W
Moon leaves umbra: 23°39'N 149°49'W
Moon leaves penumbra: 23°36'N 165°18'W

_________________________________
Neil


my Nikonians gallery.

  

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Eye Doc Registered since 22nd Sep 2007Mon 06-Dec-10 02:08 AM
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#6. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 5


San Gabriel, US
          

Neil,

Thank you for the information! I didn't realize it until now, but I will be in Death Valley on that evening and there may be some opportunities for some interesting night photography and observations there. How far above the horizon would the moon expected to be, and the times that you have mentioned for Larry at the San Fransciso location, is it for Pacific Standard Time? I'm sorry, but I couldn't understand the numbers you posted above and I couldn't find this information on the web sites that you linked to.

Thanks,

Bill

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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Mon 06-Dec-10 02:39 AM
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#7. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 6


US
          

Bill,

The times are Pacific Standard and will be the same for you.

Here are the altitude numbers for Death Valley; they are just a few degrees higher than for San Fran:

Moon's Altitude
Moon enters penumbra: 58.7°
Moon enters umbra: 70.3°
Start of totality: 77.3°
Maximum eclipse: 75.5°
End of totality: 70.6°
Moon leaves umbra: 58.5°
Moon leaves penumbra: 45.9°


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Eye Doc Registered since 22nd Sep 2007Tue 07-Dec-10 06:00 AM
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#8. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 7


San Gabriel, US
          

Neil,

Thanks for the information. Much appreciated.

Bill

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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Thu 09-Dec-10 09:26 PM
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#9. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

I posted some results from my own Earthshine practice session here

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Neil


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chris_platt Silver Member Nikonian since 04th Apr 2009Tue 14-Dec-10 09:43 PM
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#10. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 9


Newburg, US
          

Neil,

Great advice. Thank you. A couple of practical items I picked up the other night testing a new setup - take a flashlight out (I couldn't see any buttons on my camera), use shooter's gloves or gloves that keep your fingers covered while exposing the tips. My hands got so cold that I was only good for a few minutes of trials before I could no longer feel the focus ring on my lens.

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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Tue 14-Dec-10 10:05 PM
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#11. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 10


US
          

Good suggestions, Chris

I keep this LED red/white flashlight in my camera bag, actually now my Think Tank Speed Changer bag that stores all my essentials. The Red light is good for preserving night vision and the light output is adjustable.

I shoot with some thin neoprene gloves (full fingers) that allow me to work the controls but I'm not sure that's going to be enough for this project. The cold and the wind has been just unbelievable and unrelenting, especially for early December. It's not even winter yet .

I shot some of the practice images without gloves because I didn't think I'd be outdoors long enough for it to be a problem. I was wrong but by the time I realized that it was too late. You are very right about the gloves.

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Neil


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dfg Silver Member Charter MemberWed 15-Dec-10 08:39 PM
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#12. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 11


Vancouver, CA
          

There's probably about a 1% chance it won't be raining or cloudy here in Vancouver, but if I end up going out, I'll be taking a couple of those heat packs you can get at outdoor stores in my pockets, or even stuffed into my gloves (the kind in a small bag you smush around to wake up the chemicals in side to create heat).

Doug G

  

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newbird Silver Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 25th Apr 2006Wed 15-Dec-10 10:41 PM
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#13. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 0


Neuville, near Quebec City, CA
          

Great info Neil, very useful !!! Hopefully the weather will be with us that night !

Yvan
Quebec Nikonian
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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Sat 18-Dec-10 11:01 PM
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#14. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

Just a reminder that the big day is rapidly approaching

And, if you're not sure you want to freeze your buns on this eclipse, consider that, at least for us east coasters, the next op won't be until April 15, 2014!

Here is a summary of upcoming total lunar eclipses:

6-15-2011 - Not visible from the USA. Drill a hole straight down. Wherever you come out on the other end will be a fine place to view the eclipse . The eclipse will occur around noon time on the east coast USA.

12-10-2011 - Not visible from the east coast USA. The West coast will get an interesting landscape op with the total phase of the eclipse ending just moments before moon set. It will be washed out by the dawn light by then but will be around 5-10 degrees between the start of totality and maximum totality.

2012 and 2013 - none to be had anywhere

4-15-2014 - An eclipse similar to the upcoming one, except an hour later in the evening/morning wherever you are.

10-8-2014 - This eclipse will set just after maximum totality and will only be 8 degrees above the horizon at the start of totality on the far east coast. It will be be better placed for observations and high res imaging on the West coast. For east coasters this will be an interesting opportunity for a landscape shot since the moon will only be at 8 degrees altitude at the start of totality and sinking fast, and dawn will be approaching.

4-4-2015 - This eclipse will set on the east coast shortly after the moon enters the umbral (dark) shadow and will set long before total eclipse. Again, West Coasters should see the eclipse although it will be somewhat low on the horizon.

9-27-2015 - This eclipse will be well placed for east coasters, with totality ranging from 35-45 degrees altitude. It will also occur at a more civil time, the entire event before midnight.

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MotoMannequin Moderator Awarded for his extraordinary skills in landscape and wildlife photography Nikonian since 11th Jan 2006Tue 21-Dec-10 06:21 AM
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#15. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 0


Livermore, CA, US
          

Pretty solid cloud cover right now - bummer

Larry - a Bay Area Nikonian
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Bob Chadwick Silver Member Nikonian since 12th Jan 2006Tue 21-Dec-10 07:08 AM
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#16. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 15


Norcross, US
          

Similar situation in Atlanta. We still have some time. Maybe it will clear.

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DaveSoderlund Silver Member Nikonian since 29th May 2010Tue 21-Dec-10 10:22 AM
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#17. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 16


Geneva, US
          

A non-event in my corner of the Northeast. I set the alarm for 2:45, saw nothing but clouds, and never did get back to sleep!

Jason O'Dell put up a nice shot on his website just a while ago...

Dave (yawn)

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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Tue 21-Dec-10 01:11 PM
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#18. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

I had perfectly clear skies. I was very lucky. I shot almost 400 images. at least one set every 5 minutes, of the entire sequence from the entry to exit of the umbra. I shot the first half with the D700 and the 2nd half with the D300.

Here is one image, from the D700, within 3 minutes of maximum eclipse. Needs some work but I need some sleep

D700 500/4 AFS @500mm
Motorized equatorial mount
f/4 8s ISO 200

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Neil


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Attachment #1, (jpg file)

  

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chris_platt Silver Member Nikonian since 04th Apr 2009Tue 21-Dec-10 04:05 PM
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#21. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 18


Newburg, US
          

Neil, very nice. I had to deal with a slight overcast and haze, and worse yet, wind! Strong buffeting winds that my lens hates. No keepers, but I did enjoy viewing it.

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OktoberSky Registered since 21st Sep 2006Tue 21-Dec-10 04:09 PM
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#22. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 18
Wed 22-Dec-10 05:47 PM by OktoberSky

US
          

Very pretty! Thanks for posting on this very interesting event. I gave it a try but it was very cloudy. I'll wait for 2014, lol.

~Cathy

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thejackswild Registered since 02nd Jan 2005Tue 21-Dec-10 05:08 PM
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#23. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 18


Reno, US
          

Fantastic information, Neil and a fantastic image to go with it! I had clear skies and did manage a few clear photos but was not as prepared as I should have been. It was a great learning experience, however! Thank you for a fantastic post!

Liz

Liz Carter
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doswari Registered since 25th Apr 2008Tue 21-Dec-10 08:47 PM
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#24. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 18


US
          

Thank you for posting all this information and showing us your results. I was able to some photos last night, but had city lights and haze to deal with. It looks like the motorized mount makes a big difference also with the ability to keep the lens open longer at low ISO.

  

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newbird Silver Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 25th Apr 2006Wed 22-Dec-10 12:59 PM
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#27. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 18


Neuville, near Quebec City, CA
          

Superb Neil !

Unfortunately here, it was cloudy !

Cheers,

Yvan
Quebec Nikonian
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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Wed 22-Dec-10 01:44 PM
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#29. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 27


US
          

Thanks, Yvan! I think fewer people had weather for this eclipse than any I can remember.

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JonK Moderator Awarded for his high level skills and in-depth knowledge in various areas, such as Wildlife, Landscape and Stage Photography Nikonian since 03rd Jul 2004Tue 21-Dec-10 01:41 PM
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#19. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 0


New York, US
          

Winder info, Neil. Armed with it, two bodies, two tripods, and three lenses, I got nothing. Wispy clouds made the eclipse a non event. But I'll keep your info for next time!

Jon Kandel
A New York City Nikonian and Team Member
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Quickone4u Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Dec 2008Tue 21-Dec-10 03:37 PM
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#20. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 0


Dry Fork, US
          

Like many others, I was up and ready to shoot the eclipse. Also like many others, my excitement was dimmed by heavy cloud cover! Oh well! Thanks for the setup ahead of time Neil, it is greatly appreciated. I'll be ready again in 2014 I guess!

Mike
Dry Fork,Va.

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2pixels_short Gold Member Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning in the Best of Nikonians 2013 images Photo Contest Nikonian since 16th Oct 2003Tue 21-Dec-10 09:23 PM
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#25. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 0


Anchorage, US
          

Armed with this excellent information and my humble skills, I got this one with a D700 and a 500mm ƒ/4 P ED-IF set for ISO 400 ƒ4 1.6 seconds Mirror Up Cable Release on a Gitzo Series 4 Systematic and a ballhead.

There is a bit of haze / fog and about 15 minutes after this shot the fog was so thick you could not see the moon at all.

Had to change batteries twice. I also had a D300 with a 80-200mm ƒ/2.8 and a TC1.4 setup but in the full eclipse the exposure was so long that I got star trails.



Mike in Alaska

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Attachment #1, (jpg file)

  

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treadwl Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Feb 2009Tue 21-Dec-10 09:43 PM
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#26. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 25


Sunrise, US
          

Thanks a bunch!!!

I shot with my d300 and 300 f4 lens. Got some keepers but it got a bit of wispy clouds during the red phase. Overall, a great experience that would have never happened without your help. Things worked out just like you suggested.

But after viewing your image---I bet the 500 lens makes a great difference.

Thanks again.

Larry

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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Wed 22-Dec-10 01:42 PM
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#28. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 26


US
          

>> But after viewing your image---I bet the 500 lens makes a great difference.


Not the lens, the motorized mount. That makes all the difference in the world because then exposure time does not matter, except in a bad wind. You can beat a wind, though, with enough exposures statistics are on your side. You can never beat the movement of the moon on a fixed tripod.

A fast lens that is sharp wide open is important on a fixed tripod because then the exposure times can be cut.

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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Wed 22-Dec-10 02:08 PM
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#30. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 26
Wed 22-Dec-10 02:11 PM by nrothschild

US
          

In my minds eye I can visualize an eclipse image something like the image below, which I shot during the past new moon- and may have posted previously here. I might shoot that intentionally at a wider focal length to bring in more clouds.

It's not a circumstance I would wish for an eclipse night, but it would be my fallback position. I'm not sure how well the clouds would illuminate, though, and most likely it would not be at dawn or dusk as earthshine pictures like this always are.

The Oct 8, 2014 full lunar eclipse will be a setting moon at dawn for me on the east coast. Not a good eclipse for observations or high res images. The moon will be at 21 degrees altitude at the start of the partial umbral phase, and only 8.5 degrees high at the start of totality. It will reach maximum eclipse at 3.1 degrees but twilight will interfere with the entire total phase. That is for longitude 75d 4m West, on the coast where I will probably shoot it. As you go west the moon will be higher and better placed. I think for that eclipse some nice partial cloudy conditions at sunrise is about the best I can hope for.

D700 500 f/4 AFS @500mm
2s f/4iso1600

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Neil


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Attachment #1, (jpg file)

  

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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Fri 24-Dec-10 03:00 PM
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#31. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

Another image, un-cropped, to show the background stars. Actually two images, both shot at ISO 200 f/4 but with the background stars from an 8s exposure and the moon from a 4s exposure. I did a rather severe contrast stretch on the star background image to help bring out some fainter stars.

It was tough coming up with good background stars since all the images suffered from some wind movement. The moon generally "averaged out" in the less buffeted images but the various stars, all at different brightnesses, suffered differently in different images.

D700 500/4 AFS @500mm
ISO 200 f/4 4s and 8s

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Neil


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Attachment #1, (jpg file)

  

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nrothschild Silver Member Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Nikonian since 25th Jul 2004Fri 24-Dec-10 03:08 PM
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#32. "RE: Shooting the upcoming lunar eclipse Dec 20-21, 2010"
In response to Reply # 0


US
          

This is the best image I've come up with so far . This is 100% of the pixels (and I need it, with the D700). I up-sized this image to a diameter of about 11" on my desktop monitor. Looks pretty good. If the winds had been calm I probably would have shot some, if not all, images with a TC14 and/or TC17, but decided not to risk it.

Near the end of totality I swapped to the D300 for the balance of the eclipse. I'm still analyzing those images but I'm not sure I actually gained much. Not a fair test in those winds, though.

D700 500/4 AFS @500mm
Questar 7 motorized mount
f/4 4s ISO 200

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Neil


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Attachment #1, (jpg file)

  

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