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Lunar Eclipse 1996

Story location: Home / astronomy /

All of the photographs shown here were taken during the total lunar eclipse of the 26/27th of September 1996. Unfortunetely, here in Britain, we had to wait until the early hours of the morning, but since I missed the April eclipse due to cloudy weather, I made sure I saw this one.

Partially eclipsed moon

The first photograph was taken at 01:24 UT, as the Earth's shadow was starting to move across the moon. The exposure was 1/500s on Fujichrome 400 film, through a Meade LX50 8" f/10. (These photos have been recently re-scanned using my new Epson Filmscan 200, so the results are better than my old hand-held scanner.)

This was the first lunar eclipse I had seen since I bought my telescope, so I took as many photographs as I could, to increase my chances of getting some good ones. The two main photos here are probably the best of the lot - they were much better than I was expecting.

Full Eclipse

The second photo was taken at 02:30 UT, just as the moon was entering the 'total' stage of the eclipse. The exposure was 5 seconds, again on Fujichrome 400.

I was surprised how light the eclipse was. According to the photographic exposures (1/1000s for full moon to 5s for eclipsed), there was a 5000fold decrease in light level, but the moon still looked a bright orange colour. The sky didn't get dark enough for me to see the milky way, which I can normally see very easily from Anglesey on moonless nights. Bright nebulae, such as M42, were clearly visible through the telescope.

Eclipsed moon and Saturn

This third photograph was taken through a 200mm telephoto lens, and shows the eclipsed moon and Saturn in the same field of view.