Sunday, April 5, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week #205 Blood Moon Over Arizona, Tonto National Forest (near) Payson, Arizona, April 2015

Did you see it? Did you see the Blood Moon on the morning of April 4, 2015? I did and I have the photos to prove it.

I'll be very honest, these photos are definitely not "National Geographic" or "Scientific American" quality. First, I don't have the kind of sophisticated photographic equipment for this kind of photography. Second, the idea of capturing these photos was on the spur of the moment. I was experimenting in the dark of night. And, third, I take photos to document my experiences not to emulate the "National Geographic" or "Scientific American" pros.

A Blood Moon is caused by a total lunar eclipse. This particular Blood Moon was the third in a series of four within 18 months. This series of four eclipses, six months apart, is called a tetrad. There will be a total of eight tetrads between 2000 and 2100. This is the second tetrad of the century. The moon will typically look orange or red and is caused by the rays of sunlight bending around the Earth, which is between the sun and the moon. The color is caused as the sunlight bends through the Earth's atmosphere.

I took these photos from about 5,000 feet above sea level from my camping location in Tonto National Park near Payson, Arizona. The sky was remarkably clear. The first photo of the full, bright moon was taken in the eastern sky at about 9 PM on Friday night, April 3rd. The Blood Moon, lunar eclipse, photo was taken in the southern sky through a hole in the pine trees at about 5 AM April 4th when the eclipse was just about at it's fullest. It was about 40 degrees at 5 AM. I watched and shot photos for about 40 minutes.

The bright, full moon was easier to photograph because there was lots of light. It was almost bright enough to read comfortably. The Blood Moon was much harder to photograph because it was much darker than the bright full moon. Remember, the Blood Moon had no direct sunlight reflecting from it. It was totally in the shadow of the Earth and the only light reflecting from it was coming around the edges of the Earth through the atmosphere.

The camera (and I experimented with both of my digital cameras) was tripod mounted for stability. Obviously, I needed a wide lens opening and it required a time exposure to capture enough light to provide a credible image. I could use a remote shutter release via bluetooth from my smart phone with one of my cameras. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a credible image from that camera.

I don't have a way to remotely the shutter with the camera I used, so I had to actually have my hands on the camera to hold the shutter release down. Thus, it's apparent there was some slight, but evident movement of the camera during the exposure, especially on Blood Moon photo. I used Photoshop to sharpen the Blood Moon image a little before too much pixelization was apparent. But, then again, as stated earlier, this is documentation of an experience and not for publication in a major magazine.

I hope you had the opportunity to witness this lunar eclipse, the shortest to date of the 21st Century. The next opportunity to witness a total lunar eclipse and, potentially, a Blood Moon will be Sunday, September 28, 2015.

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