Monday, June 4, 2012

Prelude to the Venus Transit....

I guess another name for today's blog entry could have been more appropriately titled, The June 4, 2012 Partial Lunar Eclipse.
Tomorrow is the big astronomical event of the year, the Venus transit of the sun. I've mentioned in previous posts about how rare this event is and I'm very much looking forward to observing, photographing and sharing the event with my faithful followers here.
Last night, or to be more correct, early this morning, we had a partial lunar eclipse. For those of you that didn't realize it, anytime there is a total or annular solar eclipse during the new moon, we always have a lunar eclipse either the full moon prior to the solar event or the full moon after the solar event. In the case of this year the lunar eclipse was post solar event.
I set up early in the morning around 2:30am and was able to grab this shot of the full moon.

Although it's hard to see, the penumbral portion of the eclipse had already begun. If you know what to look for you can barely notice a very, very slight darkening of the lower left side of the image. Most people will not see it. There are times when we have a penumbral eclipse and many people cannot even tell it's happening. It's the semi transparent portion of the shadow tha proceeds the moon entering the umbra or solid shadow portion of the earth. To learn more about the mechanics of lunar eclipses, have a read of this Wikipedia entry, it does a very good job of explaining the differences.

As the earth enters the umbra I snapped this shot through the telescope. I really need to pick up the f6.3 focal reducer adapter for the scope so that I can capture the entire disc in a single frame.
The first image above is actually two separate frames stitched together to show the entire surface.

Taken at about the same time as the image above. This shot was made with the 840mm lens/extender combo you are familiar with from previous posts.

Taken at 4:03am local time during maximum eclipse. That's as much as was covered during this eclipse which is why it didn't get nearly the amount of publicity as the recent annular solar eclipse.

These three images were taken as dawn was quickly approaching, the sky starting to lighten up behind me in the east as the moon sets in the west near the very end of the eclipse.

One last capture through the telescope as it sets over the ridge line in the west.

And a few minutes after the moon disappears in the west we are greeted by a beautiful sunrise to the east.

Tomorrow's post will be all about the Venus solar transit so be sure and come back tomorrow night for images from this "last of our lifetime" event.