In 2021, one of the astronomical goals you may want to challenge your photographic skills is the lunar eclipse that takes place on May 26th (evening of May 25-26). Half the Earth can see the Moon at any given moment. Not everyone can see the whole event for approximately three hours. For this country, the inhabitants of the Pacific Hemisphere are favored. But the west coast of the United States will see the total number, followed by the still partially obscured moon, opposite the sunrise.
As everyone has studied in school, lunar eclipses occur when the Moon passes through the shadow of the Earth when the Sun, Earth and Moon line up. This doesn’t happen every month because of complications like the timing and tilt of the moon̵7;s orbit. In addition, the Moon does not usually pass through the center of the Earth’s shadow. This month, the moon is hardly in the shadow of the Earth. Another upcoming lunar eclipse (November 11) has the moon hardly emerging from its shadow, so technically it is a partial eclipse.
For the exact timing of the moon phases into Earth’s shadow and a diagram of where the moon will be in Earth’s shadow, see detailed data calculated by leading eclipse experts (Dr. Fred S. Penac)
Anyone who has ever glanced at a lunar eclipse might think it’s not a big deal – a dim orange moon. But in terms of imaging, the challenge lies in the dynamic range of the transition from a full moon to a full moon. In addition, the obscured moon setting poses an exposure challenge to a bright sky.
During a total (total) solar eclipse, the brightness of the moon dims enough so that the stars can be seen, so it is important to try to see the eclipse from the dark away from the city lights.
Considering the focal length composition you may want to consider, it covers the entire gamut from 1000mm + for the moon close-up to the very wide one, which can show the progression of the eclipse distance against the horizontal below. Time-lapse sequences are also a good choice for modern digital cameras that can capture hundreds of frames during an eclipse. And since the moon setting is still partially obscured, you may want to consider your position taking into account the specific foreground.
For an idea of the camera settings you need, check out the special guide published by Nikon exclusively for photographing lunar eclipses: This guide goes back to the days of film photography. But it’s still a good starting point. The eclipse progresses slowly enough to benefit from an immediate response.You have time during the eclipse to tweak or configure your lighting.
In addition to considering the moon foreground, another point to consider is the background of the stars during the total number of episodes. In this eclipse, the moon sits at the head of Scorpia, one of the brightest and most striking constellations of summer. Consider shooting with a lens wide enough to accommodate the entire constellation.
To view the eclipse versus the stars in your location, use a planetarium program such as Stellarium (free for all PC platforms), enter your location in the program settings, and then set the date and time to match the eclipse to see how the moon is. Where will it appear in your sky? The program also allows you to customize the landscape by adding your own 360 x 180 degree panoramas to the program so that you can see your own real horizon.
For the most part, the sequence of lunar eclipses can be taken with standard photographic equipment. When using a tripod, you will need to adjust your frame so that the moon is centered unless you are using a wide lens. However, if you are in the middle of the moon with relatively high magnification during the eclipse, you will find the moon spinning in the frame as shown below:
If you want to eliminate the moon’s rotation in your frame during an eclipse, a special device you may want to consider is a tracking device, such as an equatorial mount used for astronomical telescopes.
For a lighter payload and short focal length, a simple single-axis star track like the Star Adventurer will do well.This tracker is designed to be mounted on a standard camera tripod.
Most follow-up installations will eliminate the frustrating nuisance with each shot as the sky passes and eliminates the moon’s rotation in your frame. For good results, the track should be installed so that the pole axis is pointed at the sky pole. The longer the focal length, the greater the accuracy. But during the eclipse period, if you do it incorrectly, it can be corrected by adjusting your frame periodically.
During an eclipse, you will have the option to track based on the star rate. (Flank rate), in which case you will photograph the moon moving against the background of the stars or according to the lunar rate, which will center the moon as the background. Of the movement of the stars Of course, this assumes you have used the exposure long enough to show the background stars.
A trick: If you plan to take the last shot with the moon at the horizon, place your camera on the ballhead tracker mount. Center the moon, then rotate your camera to the western horizon using only polar axis movement. Take note of the point on the horizon in the middle of the view. Now level the horizon line in your camera frame over the ball’s head, keeping the center point fixed. Finally, rotate the polar axis back to begin tracking the moon. You may need to repeat this a few times to frame them properly.
The last element: luck
Even with careful preparation But you can still be deterred by the bad weather. But unless the sky is overcast, don’t give up. Clouds can help add interest to your photos.
Good luck and post a link to your results in the comments below!