Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Total Eclipse of the Moon

What a birthday present!  Just before midnight last night, I went outside and was very disappointed to find the sky completely clouded over.  I started to go to bed but then decided to wait until 1:30am when the eclipse was supposed to begin.  Lo and behold, when I went out, now on my birthday, I found a beautiful clear sky filled with stars.  I lugged my big lens outside and got ready to shoot the moon.  (If you click on the photos, you can see larger ones.)

The eclipse creeping across the moon.

Just about to go into total eclipse.


It was beautiful with the stars of the Milky Way in the background.

Just starting to emerge from the shadow. 

By now it was after 4am.  My fingers were numb from cold, so I went to bed. What a great birthday gift the heavens gave me.

Getting the photos wasn't easy.  I used my Canon 5D and my big mother of a 500mm lens with a 1.4X extender giving me the equivalent of a 700mm lens.  The lens and camera were on a sturdy Gitzo tripod with a Wimberly Sidekick mount on a Really Right Stuff ballhead.  The moon was crossing the sky quite quickly (OK, I know it's the earth revolving) and every few minutes I had to adjust the whole rig to keep the moon in frame.  My fingers were so cold and numb, I could barely feel the little buttons on the camera.  Then, the camera suddenly went dead even though I had put a fully charged battery in it.  I had a couple of freshly charged batteries in my coat pocket, but neither of them worked either.  It was the cold!  These lithium batteries don't like cold weather.  Lucky for me, I had another battery in the house, so I ran and got it and resumed shooting.  I put the other two batteries into my pants, right next to my skin.  When the camera went dead again, I was able to use one of those warmed-up batteries.