Total Lunar Eclipse: Tuesday 28th August 2007


Total Lunar Eclipse: Tuesday 28th August 2007

The full gallery of lunar eclipse photos is here:

A lot of Planning and Preparation

Since this was my first lunar eclipse since my photographic capacity had been upgraded with the purchase of substantial new toys in 2005, and was to be the last for several years, I was keen to make the most of it. I spent a lot of time planning the photographic sequence and did some practice work during an extra deep-sky trip a week beforehand.

I took eclipse day (and the next day) off work so that I had flexibility to drive to clear skies. How far I needed to judge turned out to be difficult to judge. Having driven nearly three hours north of Melbourne to clear blue afternoon skies, I still suffered quite a bit of cloud during the eclipse but I managed to squeeze enough photos in through the generally thin high clouds (see Weather details below).

I found myself a nice spot on the shores of Greens Lake near Rochester, which actually had water in it to my surprise which reflected the rising moon nicely. The picnic area had been deserted all afternoon, until just after I got dressed up in all my winter gear, including ski trousers and snow boots, ready for the night ahead. The car that arrived then took one look at me and turned around to choose another spot (just visible under their chosen tree in the moonrise photo).


I was primed and ready to go. I'd eaten my sandwiches knowing that I wasn't going to get a minute to stop once the moonrise and my hectic photographic sequence began (operating three cameras at once). The video below is me going crazy taking photos as the moon rose - although it was faint, I could see the moon well before it is visible in this video from my little Canon Ixus camera (a fourth camera!).

Earth's Shadow

The three composite images below are my illustrations of what happens during a lunar eclipse. The first image contains two very short exposures (eg 1/250th second) of the moon during the partial phases of the eclipse, and one very long expsore (>30 seconds) of the moon during totality. Although not obvious in these composites, the eclipsed moon is hundreds of time fainter than the moon outside earth's shadow.

In the second (middle) image, the moon is very overexposed in the partial phases, showing the true shape of the earth's shadow. The third image shows the moon moving into and out of the shadow in five minute increments during the partial phases.

Composite Eclipse Image

I dusted off an old Canon EOS10 film camera for this one (My two digital cameras were tied up taking other photos!). This image shows the moon moving through the sky over Greens Lake, while it moves into and out of eclipse. Again, the exposures are much longer during totality to make up for the fact that the eclipsed moon is actually very much darker than the moon outside earth's shadow.

Before and after the eclipse, I could comfortably read notes and adjust camera settings under the light of the moon. During totality I needed my torch out to do anything.

(This image has been prepared from very poor quality scans. I hope to repeat it soon with higher quality scans.)

The Moon Movie

Here is a movie version of the lunar eclipse, with a single frame for every five minutes through the eclipse. The movement of the moon through the frame is the moon's true movement backwards relative to the sky and stars behind it. Again you can see the dramatic step change in exposure required to show the very faint eclipsed moon in between the brighter partial phases of the eclipse.

The Weather

Below are two satellite loops. I was in Heathcote for lunch (south-east of Bendigo). Looking at the first loop then, and from what I could see from Mt Ida, I decided I needed to head a little further north. So I headed up the road to Rochester which had clear blue skies and not a cloud in sight. Travelling any further seemed pointless and left me close enough to return to my ASV bed in Heathcote after the eclipse.

Later in the afternoon, I found myself a nice spot on the banks of Greens Lake near Rochester (north-east of Bendigo). Right until moonrise I felt pretty confident that cloud wasn't going to penetrate that far north. However, on the second satellite loop, you can see the band of high cloud that covered Melbourne from 6-8pm also reached me and made getting the photos I needed a little tricky. The satellite images actually look worse than it felt on the ground - the cloud was quite thin and I had pretty good views of most of the eclipse, but it did almost (but not quite) ruin my photos of mid-eclipse.

The Age story on the Eclipse
Full Eclipse Details at