Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lunar Eclipse, February 20, 2008

With temperatures just above zero degrees, and clouds forecast to come in early, I was wavering about getting out a telescope to watch the lunar eclipse tonight. BUT, then I saw my next door neighbor Joan getting out her Orion XT-6 and walked over to chat with her for a few minutes. Since my Tele Vue 101 is always set up and ready to go, and can be carried out the door in seconds, I decided to brave the weather and give it a try. I did put on my Baffin Technologies icepack boots (guaranteed against frostbite to 150 degrees below zero :-) ).

We had some fine views, and I even took pictures through the 101 with a 17mm Nagler and my Canon S2 IS, which I just held up to the eyepiece. I experimented with various aperature and shutter speed combos to get a nice balance. This was a one second exposure at f2.7 with an ISO setting of 200. It was taken just before totality, which is why one edge has a whitish rim. The moon was accompanied by Saturn and Regulus, which made for a fine show. When the sky darkened as the moon neared totality, stars across the sky became more brilliant, which was a bit of magic.

The clouds were coming in fast by 9:15 PM and by 9:30 the sky was clouded over and the show was finished. So we didn't get to see that much of the totality, but it was still a beautiful display. Well worth braving the cold.

We won't have another lunar eclipse until December 2010 I guess, so I'm glad we got to see this one.

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