Sunday, October 4, 2015
My wife doesn’t accompany me on many Journal-World photo assignments. But the moon has been a close friend of hers since she was young, so she joined me to chase the harvest moon and eclipse Sept. 27.
She quickly learned that it wasn’t going to be a romantic activity. Most of the evening involved driving in circles, with me desperately seeking out scenes to frame the moon. I’m afraid she now equates a full moon with car sickness.
A full moon rising presents challenges for a photographer. First of all, the moon moves quickly in relationship to foreground landmarks in your frame. And the longer the focal length of your lens, the faster the moon will move through the frame.
I had a telephoto lens of around 400mm, mounted on a tripod. When we pulled into a parking lot behind Kansas University’s Carruth-O’Leary Hall, we were high above Lawrence and had a great view of the harvest moon above the eastern horizon.
The Oread Hotel was also to the east, between us and the moon, and at about the same height as we were. I realized the moon lined up with the top deck of the hotel if I shifted my position a little. But by the time I set my tripod and framed the scene the moon had already moved higher.
To give myself another opportunity at the same shot, I ran down the hill to a spot that would recreate the same angle. This time, as the moon again cleared the top of the Oread, I was ready. Soon I realized my second challenge. The moon is very bright.
To the naked eye, the moon and the hotel were clearly legible, but in my exposures the moon was so much brighter it washed out all detail. As I reduced my exposure setting I correctly exposed for the moon leaving the hotel underexposed. Now I recognized I could silhouette people on the top of the hotel against the brighter surface of the moon. My exposure on the moon over The Oread was 1/250th shutter-speed, f4.5 aperture and ISO 500.
Since the eclipse was the big event of the night, my wife and I next drove around searching new scenes to include with the blood red moon. I settled on the Campanile at KU.
By the time of the eclipse, the moon was higher in the sky, so the height of the Campanile ensured that I would be able to keep the moon framed against the Lawrence landmark. I wanted to make the moon larger in the frame, so I used only a side of the Campanile’s illuminated stone surface. In eclipse, the moon was much darker than my foreground object and my exposure was 1/40th shutter-speed, f2.8 aperture and ISO 1600.
I got three photographs that night, and the most unusual is the one that captured an airplane against the moon at the halfway point of the eclipse.
When I first reviewed my images on my computer I told my wife I thought I had a large piece of dust on my camera sensor on one frame. When I enlarged the image and saw the plane I was stunned. I may have even howled. Complete and total luck. The exposure was a shutter-speed of 1/500th, f5.6 aperture and ISO 500.
— Chief Photographer Mike Yoder can be reached at 832-7141. Follow him on Twitter at @mikeyoderljw.
Ken Lassman 7 years, 8 months ago
The media has been pronouncing that the next time this will happen is 2033, which is doing a great disservice to everyone who enjoys watching a total lunar eclipse. It's true that the next total lunar eclipse so close to the moon's perigee takes place in 2033, but there are plenty of other total lunar eclipses that take place between now and then. Here's a list of total lunar eclipses that will be visible from Lawrence between now and 2033, along with the difference in size between the one we just saw. Note that many of these eclipses will be less than 1% smaller and size than the September one. All times are local Lawrence times:
Jan. 31, 2018: totality begins at 1:29pm and diameter is less than 1% smaller than the Sept. 28th total lunar eclipse;
Jan. 21, 2019: totality begins at 4:41am and diameter is less than 1% smaller;
May 26, 2021: totality begins at 6:18am and diameter is less than 1% smaller;
May 16, 2022: totality begins at 10:29pm and diameter is 1.3% smaller
Nov. 8, 2022: totality begins at 10:16am and diameter is less than 1% different
March 13, 2025: totality begins at 6:26am and diameter is 10% smaller
March 3, 2026: totality begins at 5:04am and diameter is 6.3% smaller
June 25, 2029: totality begins at 9:31pm and diameter is 6% smaller
Dec. 20, 2029: totality begins at 4:15pm and diameter is 10% smaller
October 8, 2033: totality begins at 5:15am and diameter is the same
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