Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Total Eclipse of the Heart...I Mean, Moon (LIVE!)

12:31am - Current temperature 27 degrees. Bundle up and head outside for the first peek at the moon since dinnertime. It's almost directly overhead...I may have to hike around the neighborhood a bit to follow it across the sky! The penumbral was supposed to start two minutes ago, but I don't see any noticeable difference. I snap the first picture anyways:

1:10am - Maybe the moon looks a tiny bit darker on one side? Or maybe it's just my eyes seeing what it thinks it ought to be seeing. I didn't take a picture. The umbra shadow will start the full eclipse in 23 minutes!

1:41am - It's started!! I literally gasped a little when I stepped outside. We are now about 10 minutes into the eclipsing. It will take a full hour and 8 minutes to move to fully eclipsed.

(Note to self - bring something to sit on. 27 degree concrete makes my butt very cold very quickly!)

2:07am - Halfway point from the beginning of the umbral shadow to fully eclipsed. Temperature has dropped to 25 degrees! ("Feels like 15") I can *just* pick up the wifi signal from the front steps, hehe (yep, I am ON-SITE for this post!) I can see some of the darker reddish color on the left half of the moon; not sure how well that picks up on the camera though...

2:15am - I wimp out due to the cold, despite my blanket, after only 10 minutes. I'll go back out again in a few to get a 3/4 eclipsed shot. I didn't even take off my puffy jacket and blanket wrap when I came back in!

2:25-2:35am - The eclipsing is 3/4 of the way done; we are only a few minutes away from the full eclipse! It's getting harder to take the pictures because the brightness is rapidly decreasing, but here are the best two:

(Confidential to Jcq - in regards to your, um, request...I could go wake my husband up and ask him if it's okay? I'm sure he'd be super thrilled!)

2:42am - According to NASA, we are fully eclipsed! It still looks a little bright on one side though. I had to switch over to the night-time setting on the camera, which means bracing against the brick wall and holding my breath for each shot:

It also means I can't zoom in as far - the moon hasn't shrunk, I promise! It's a lovely mottled dark red, which I think you can pick up on a little bit in the last two pictures. The peak of the eclipse is at 3:17am; I hope the color will brighten some by then. The "feels like" temperature has dropped to 14 degrees - I've been leaving my coat on in between trips outside.

3:10am - tried to take pictures with the camera's "reduce camera shake" setting instead of the "night time" setting but they didn't turn out that great. I really should get a tripod or something...

3:21am - Clouds? BOO. I got a few glimpses between breaks in the clouds, but it looked about the same as before. Also, it's really damn cold and the wind is picking up a bit - I'm not sure I would have been able to hold the camera steady enough to take any more pictures even if it had still been clear.

So there you go! Look at the pictures in reverse order, in a mirror, for the second half :-) The moon will start coming out of the eclipsed period beginning at 3:53am. It'll take another 1 hour and 8 minutes to fully come out of the earth's umbra (at 5:01am), and the 2010 winter solstice eclipse will be officially over at the end of the penumbral shadow at 6:05am. I, however, will be in bed in 5 minutes!


andrea said...

These look great! Nice job!

Courtney said...

Thank you!!

ccnusbaum said...

I seriously have to thank you for taking these. I really wanted to go out and see this eclipse, but I've been battling a bad cold since monday morning and Nyquil has me knocked completely out at night. These pics + your commentary make it feel almost like I experienced it myself!

Courtney said...

You are welcome! It was an amazing experience (despite the cold) and I was so glad to be able to stay up and see it.