Total Lunar Eclipse of 28 - 29 Oct 2004

View from the Southern Hemisphere

The eclipse of 29th October 2004 was almost entirely clouded out in the UK and I saw nothing of it. I am therefore grateful for pictures and a report from Josh Feyen, who is spending several months travelling in South America and caught the event from Argentina.

Although I had not pre-warned him of this eclipse he became aware of it at short notice and used his Canon Powershot S1 digital camera to catch some nice pictures. It was a long eclipse, with totality lasting 1 hour 20 minutes.

The local time was 3 hours behind the UK - this meant that while the eclipse took place in the early hours of the 29th for the UK, but in Argentina it started in the late evening of the 28th.

Unlike an eclipse of the Sun, where the shadow moves across the surface of the Earth and different places see it at different times, an eclipse of the Moon is visible anywhere where the Moon is above the horizon (weather permitting of course!). Therefore, the event starts simultaneously for everyone, and the difference in times quoted arise purely from the time zone in which the observer is located.

Here is his report...

I'm in Argentina right now, about 10 hours north of Buenos Aires. Thought of you, a few nights ago, when we were treated to a lunar eclipse during a full moon. I don't know anything about lunar eclipses, maybe they happen all the time, maybe they always happen during a full moon and maybe everyone in the world saw it (including you) but I was enthralled by it and took a load of photos.

Not quite as brilliant or spectacular as the solar eclipse we saw in Australia, but none the less, a spectacular celestial event. It started around 10:30 p.m. and lasted a good 3.5 hours, and it had to have been entirely covered for 60 minutes. In fact, I think some of my best photos were of it when it was covered.

4 stages of the lunar eclipse:-

01:55 shows the Moon about half covered. A long exposure reveals something of the portion in shadow but means the sunlit side is very over exposed.

02:24 marks the start of totality.

03:43 (in black & white) was taken 2 minutes before the end of totality

04:27 shows two-thirds of the Moon back in sunlight. Correctly exposed for the sunlit side, the portion in shadow barely registers at all.

For a northern hemisphere observer these pictures show an unusual perspective - with the Moon moving into the northern sky towards local midnight its easterly progress through the Earth's shadow is from top left to lower right. A European, North American or Asian viewer would normally expect to see the Moon move from right to left, as in this eclipse a year earlier.

Canon Powershot S1, 10x optical plus 3.2x digital zoom. Tripod mounted but no additional optical equipment. Pictures reduced to 33% of original.

I've reduced the image size of four photos and have attached them for you. These are probably the best, but I do have photos of the moon in many phases of the eclipse, from about 40 percent covered (I got a late start) through to about 80 percent uncovered (I got tired and bored before it was completely uncovered).

01:55 (22:55 local time) - one of the first photos I took as the eclipse was getting underway.

02:24 (23:24) - a color photo when the moon was entirely covered by the earth's shadow. Long exposure makes this look pretty normal, don't you think?

03:43 (00:43) - the moon mostly covered by the Earth's shadow, just coming out of the eclipse. The sun is just striking the lower right part of the moon.

04:27 (01:27) - one of the last photos I took. I was never sure where on the moon to set my exposure, the covered or uncovered part. This photo is striking because of the detail in the uncovered part but you loose the rest of the moon, which was visible to the naked eye. Setting the exposure to the dark side resulted in an over exposed bright side.

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