2015 Lunar Eclipse

Just in case you didn’t make it out at 4:30 this morning in the 20 degree weather to watch the eclipse…

Here’s an earlier shot of the full moon at approximately 10PM last night. I wanted to get out and start to learn how I would need to setup the camera to be able to get the shots that I wanted.

Full Moon before the eclipse
Full Moon before the eclipse

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, it takes a couple of hours for the shadow of the Earth to move across the face of the Moon. During that time I had plenty of time to learn about what settings were necessary and to give me ample opportunity to try to find the sweet spot of shutter speed, ISO and captured light. The previous shot of the full moon was actually a fairly quick exposure. However once the shadow started to move across the face of the moon I realized that I would have to pick an exposure that favored either the details in the light side or the details in the shadow side. If you picked the light side the dark side was simply black and if you pick the shadow side, the light on the bright side was completely blown out.

This was a longer 1.6 second exposure that’s obviously favoring the details in the shadows on the moon. To the naked eye it was much easier to see the details in the light side but in the photograph they’re completely blown out. Conversely I could see the redish hue on the shadow side but with the naked eye it was almost impossible to pick out the details captured in this photo.

2015 Eclipse over Colorado Springs
2015 Eclipse over Colorado Springs

This shot is half of the reason I made sure to get up in the small hours and freezing cold. I knew that the moon was going to be setting to the west by south-west relative to Colorado Springs. I wasn’t sure exactly where along the Front Range it was going to set in but I was hopefully that from my vantage point it would be somewhere near Pikes Peak. Fortunately for me that’s exactly what happened.

The Moon actually set just before dawn broke, which was also the peak moment of the eclipse for my location which made this possible. As the inky blackness of night lightened to prussian blues hues I was able to make out more of the Front Range. I had been able to see the light at the top of Pikes Peak even in the blackness so I knew my patience would eventually be rewarded but it was worth the hours of shuffling in the bitter cold for this.

This is a very long 8 second exposure that I used to get more detail from the snow capped peak. With my old aluminum tripod this was about as long as I could push an exposure and have any hope of getting something that wasn’t too blurry. I did try pushing the ISO down and pushing the exposure times up as high as 16 seconds but that was beyond the capabilities of my equipment to capture a sharp image. Also between the motion of the Moon and the rotation of the Earth I was also starting to get trails and ghost imaging with exposures that long.

Eclipse over Pikes Peak
Eclipse over Pikes Peak, April 4th, 2015

And another shot where you can see more of the surrounding area including Garden of the Gods. A little bit later on and with a 3 second exposure. And unless I’m quite mistaken that’s Venus just visible in the upper left corner of the image. So you can’t say you’re not getting your money’s worth in this image.

2015 Eclipse, Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods
2015 Eclipse, Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods

Here’s is the view of the lunar eclipse as it’s just about to sneak behind the mountains and out of view. This was around 6:15AM and still about 30 minutes before the true sunrise.

2015 Eclipse setting behind Pikes Peak
2015 Eclipse setting behind Pikes Peak

The moon was completely gone from view within the next 10 mintues. I was tempted to stick around that extra half hour to catch those magical golden rays of first light on the peak as well but honestly I was starting to lose feeling in my toes by this point and after such an amazing celestial exhibition – sunrises seem like such an everyday event.

New Toy

So I finally scrapped together enough pennies to get a new lens for my camera. Between Christmas money, birthday money, tax refund money, selling some of old and unused camera gear and buying a used lens I was able to make it work.

So today was the first day I got a chance to get out there and see what all that scrimping and saving had bought me.

Here’s a nice shot of Pikes Peak as seen from UCCS.

Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods

Here’s a zoomed in version of just the peak.

Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak, just the peak

There’s actually enough pixels that you can actually see the structure at the top of the peak…

Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak, just the tippity-top

Here’s a portion of Garden of the Gods as seen from UCCS when zoomed way in… I wonder who owns those giant houses. I’m jealous of their view.

Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods

One more picture of Garden of the Gods.

Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods

I’m very impressed with the new lens. It’s got a huge photo range and it sufficiently sharp for shooting whatever I need to. Really happy with my 2-lens setup now.