Totally Awesome Eclipse Awes Us All

An “around the clock” sequence starting with the uneclipsed moon (left), followed by the penumbral and then partial phases, flanks a photo at mid-totality when the moon was fully immersed in Earth’s shadow. The three frames at bottom are overexposed to better show how the moon looks in deep partial eclipse with a sunlit crescent cupping the red moon. Details: 4″ f/7 refractor, ISO 400, exposures from 1/250″ to 6 seconds. Credit: Bob King

What a fine eclipse! I hope you were as fortunate as we were to have clear skies. Here are a few photos taken during a very long night with my friend Will. After looking at and photographing the moon through the telescope in the countryside, we set off for the city to see how a big red ball paired with familiar scenes.

The moon just out of total eclipse, Spica (lower right of moon) and Mars (upper right) decorate the sky around the old Central High School clocktower in downtown Duluth, Minn. U.S. Tuesday morning. Credit: Bob King

I first noticed the penumbral or outer shadow of the Earth about a half hour before partial eclipse as a brownish shading along the moon’s left side. The edge of the inner, dark shadow – called the umbra – was fuzzy and smoky orange-brown in the telescope. What fun to watch it creep over the moon’s face covering one crater after another.

Pretty scene at the telescope taken during totality early this morning by Jim Schaff of Duluth

During total eclipse, the top of the moon, which was closest to the center of the umbra was very dark orange with the naked eye, while the bottom rind – the portion of the moon farthest from umbral center – glowed a dull yellow. Colors varied some depending on whether you viewed with the naked eye, binoculars or telescope.

The fully eclipsed moon is tucked inside the outline of a bird in the Wild Ricing Moon sculpture on the University of Minnesota-Duluth campus Tuesday morning. Credit: Bob King

One of our favorite sights was seeing the totally eclipsed moon alongside its starry companion Spica in binoculars. In the 8×40 glass, the moon looked pumpkin-colored. My older daughter said the eclipsed moon looked like a toasted marshmallow!

This wide field view showing the moon and Spica from Duluth is a composite of two photos – 0.6 seconds for eclipse, 5 seconds for stars, 200mm f/4 ISO400, Canon 50D.  Credit: Tom Nelson

As the moon progressed through the umbra, a yellow “smile” of a crescent slowly slid from one side to the other along the moon’s bottom edge. A minute after emerging from totality, the brilliant “cap” of light on the moon’s left side resembled a polar cap on the red planet Mars. What a fine coincidence the real Mars was just a fist away.

Most of us who saw the eclipse couldn’t help but also notice the bright star Spica in Virgo accompanying the moon. To the upper right Mars shone brilliantly. Credit:  Bob King

A favorite pastime during total lunar eclipses is watching the darkness return as the moon gets clipped by Earth’s shadow. The change is slow at first but soon you’re staring up marveling at how all those stars got there. During totality the sky’s was as dark as a moonless night and stayed that way for over an hour.

Soma Acharya sent several photos she and her husband Kaushik took of the eclipse. This one features the trio of the moon, Spica (right) and Mars. Credit: Soma Acharya

When moonlight returned, the stars fled and the Milky Way faded away in the lunar glare … until the next eclipse in October! Thank you everyone for sharing your images. I also encourage you to continue to share your impressions in the Comments section below.

The moon in partial eclipse along with Spica appear to remain still as a flag flaps in chilly winds in downtown Duluth, Minn. Credit: Bob King
I couldn’t resist. During total eclipse the sky became so dark the Milky Way sparkled across the eastern sky. After totality, it faded away. Credit: Bob King
Closeup of the moon near mid-eclipse. The top or northern half of the moon is darker than the bottom because it’s closer to the center of Earth’s umbral shadow. Also, the bottom of the moon is covered by more of the lighter-toned lunar highlands versus the “sea-heavy” northern half. Credit: Bob King

19 Responses

  1. Troy

    Great Pictures! In Michigan we got hit by a snow storm, I did get a decent nights sleep though (have to look on the bright side)
    Looks like the eclipse was on the brighter side.

    1. astrobob

      Sorry to hear it but I can certainly appreciate that sleep you got. I’m up again after three hours and will soon be back to work.

  2. Roy

    Nice !!!

    The clock tower fills in the space between the Eclipsed Moon and Mars beautifully … 😉 …

    Thanks for staying up and posting those shots! We were clouded over with heavy rain so your blog was my first stop to see what I missed.

    1. astrobob

      Thanks Roy. Sorry to hear about the rain. We were so clear here it was just … amazing. Snowstorm coming tomorrow 🙂

  3. Jeannette

    This was one beautiful night to watch the sky. Being near Duluth, we too had a totally clear sky all night. And the moon setting this morning was lovely.
    A question, Bob — will the next three lunar eclipses (2014/15) also be red like last night?
    Your photos, educational material and passion for this topic is great. Thanks for sharing.

    1. astrobob

      Hi Jeanette,
      Yes, the next three will most likely be very similar in color though not identical. If there’s a lot of volcanic activity between now and any one of them, those eclipses tend to be darker and less colorful because of the soot and chemicals belched into the atmosphere.

  4. Cloud cover on Montana’s eastern front range. No eclipse for us. Waited for 45 minutes for the clouds to break but no joy. 🙁

  5. Elizabeth

    I knew you would get some amazing pictures neighbor!! Thank you for sharing! I still remember coming over with Amber and looking through your telescopes at the stars and you teaching us about them. Keep on being passionate!! ❤️

    1. astrobob

      That’s interesting Edward. It was really split for me – very dark on top and light on the bottom.

  6. Marlene Typpo

    Beautiful photos Bob. I always enjoy looking for your pics when I am perusing the News Tribune. Thank you for sharing!

    1. astrobob

      Hi Marlene,
      It’s been a long time since I’ve seen your name. Great of you to write; happy you like the blog.

  7. Tim Hutton

    Hi Bob,
    Not related to the eclipse, although I fully enjoyed it. Have you heard of anyone having trouble with Stellarium? I get a “Stellarium has stopped working” message when I try to open it.

    1. astrobob

      Hi Tim,
      Yes, I’ve had Stellarium problems on occasion. Every version has some bugs. What version are you using? Some problems have been corrected with newer versions of the software while new bugs crop up. That’s the case right now with 0.12.4 on my Mac where zooming in makes the sky very black. Try downloading the latest version to see if the problem you’re experiencing has been corrected. You can also Google “Known issues with Stellarium xxxx”.

      1. Tim Hutton

        I was using 12.4 without issue until this. I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled it with no change. Recently uninstalled it and installed 12.2 and same problem. I’ve searched their website for a answer without any luck. I’ll keep trying. Thanks

  8. Edward O'Reilly

    Alas,like so many others,we were clouded out in New Brunswick,Canada.Since I had gotten up,I did watch some of the eclipse online,which was the next best thing.You took some beautiful pics,Bob-thanks for posting them! Especially like the one with the eclipsed moon hovering over the clocktower!

    1. astrobob

      Nice to know you could follow it on the Web. Glad you liked the pix and thanks for saying. That was quite an adventure driving around downtown at 3:30 looking for cool settings. Hope it’s clear for you for the next one in October.

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