Partial Moon eclipse 17 October 2005, image by Nick Lomb
On the evening of Tuesday 28 August 2007 one of Nature’s most spectacular events will take place, a total eclipse of the Moon. This will be visible throughout Australia with the Moon starting to move into the Earth’s shadow at 6:51 pm eastern standard time and being totally eclipsed from 7:52 pm. When the Moon is totally eclipsed it generally takes on a dark red colour. Seeing a faint red disc hanging in the sky is a most impressive sight.
With modern digital cameras the eclipse is a great photo opportunity. Try photographing the partial phases first as then the Moon is much brighter and easier to photograph. Use the highest zoom on your camera and try different exposure modes. Do not use flash (unless you specifically want the foreground exposed)! Support the camera on a tripod or by other means, though that may be unnecessary for the partial phases if your camera has an image stabilising system.
Photography becomes harder when the Moon is fully eclipsed as its brightness is much less. Long exposures will be necessary and firm support will be essential. A good trick to avoid creating vibration when taking the image is to use the self-timer to trigger the shot.
If you have access to a small telescope than it is possible to do afocal photography by holding the camera up the eyepiece. The image above was taken in this way through a 25-cm Dobsonian telescope.
If you do succeed in taking a good eclipse image send it into the Observatory and we will put some of the best ones on the blog.