The Lunar Eclipse

On October 8, 2014, a lunar eclipse occurred in North America, and Oceania. This eclipse is the second of four consecutive total lunar eclipses occurring in 2014-2015.

I missed the first eclipse because that night in Toronto was overcast with a thick cloud. On that night, the forecast looked bleak with clouds clearing only around 6-7 am, when the eclipse was underway. Some forecasts say that it would remain cloudy for the whole night. Despite the high probability of cloud, I decided to go and observe anyway.

I arrived at the bus depot near the Markham Fairgrounds at 5:00 am. It was completely overcast, although there was a break in the clouds at that time. In that break, I believe I saw the beginning of the eclipse at that time, but I am uncertain about that. After I captured a few shots of the Moon, the clouds covered the night sky.


Partial Phase of the Lunar Eclipse. 5:59 AM

After waiting a while for the clouds to clear, I elected to leave that area and come back in 30 minutes, once the clouds cleared up a bit more. However, on the road back home, I saw a significant break in the clouds and I drove back to the spot. When I arrived there, the clouds opened up slightly to reveal some of the stars. In the distance, I saw a sort of divide between the clouds and what I assumed was another set of clouds. As the clouds moved eastward, I noticed that the divide was an opening between the clouds and the sky.

Eventually, the clouds moved far enough that the eclipsing moon became visible. I soon began imaging it playing around with the settings, experimenting with what created a great image and what created a flawed image. It was an amazing experience to not only capture but to view a lunar eclipse.


Partial Lunar Eclipse Phase. 6:26 AM

As the Moon descended towards the atmosphere, I decided to get a clearer view of the horizon. I grabbed the camera and headed into the Bus Depot. There, I got a clearer view of the horizon, and the eclipse as well.


Lunar Eclipse 6:39 AM

The eclipse lasted for many hours until sunrise. As the Moon descended deeper into totality, the sun starts to rise, which obstructed the view of the Moon in totality. At around 7:05 pm, I couldn’t see the Moon anymore. At that time, I decided to go back home.


Lunar Eclipse in Totality 6:52 AM

Looking at the photographs, I also realized that I may have imaged Uranus as well. I compared the image I took with Starry Nights planetarium software, and I couldn’t confirm whether I imaged a star or Uranus with the reddening Moon. I then compared my image with another person’s image, and I saw that there was a blue star near the moon in a similar position to the other person’s image. There were other stars, but they were not a sky blue. I suspect it is Uranus, but I cannot be sure.

EDIT: A friend of mine confirmed that the dot is indeed Uranus. 😀

IMG_9717 - Uranus_arrow

6:26 AM with Uranus circled.

Whoever saw the eclipse, in Toronto, were lucky that the clouds cleared up. I had a great time imaging the eclipse. I invite anyone who saw the eclipse to share their experience on the comments section below.


Keep Looking Up!


The Tetrad of Lunar Eclipses

Taking a break from magnetic fields, I wanted to talk about a very rare event that started taking place on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. The first of four lunar eclipses took place that night. This is a rare event as this tetrad of eclipses will occur six months apart from each other; the first one on April 15, 2014, the next on October 8, 2014, the third on April 4, 2015, and the last one on September 28, 2015. All of the eclipses will be visible from North America.

All these eclipses will be total eclipses. That is when the entire moon is completely engulfed in the Earth’s shadow. This is the most spectacular eclipse as the whole moon turns a bright red, reminiscent of a sunset. This is also called the blood moon. The next kind of eclipse is a partial eclipse. This is when the Moon crosses into the Earth’s umbra, but is not completely consumed by it. The last and least noticeable is a prenumbral eclipse. The Moon enters the Earth’s prenumbra, but doesn’t cross into the umbra. This is a very subtle eclipse. The most one will notice is a drop in brightness. Luckily for us, all the eclipses during this tetrad of eclipses will make the moon glow red. But why red?

That is because, when the sun obstructs the Earth, most of the light is being blocked, but the light hitting the atmosphere is bending towards the Moon. While that occurs, the atmosphere is also scattering the shorter wavelengths of the spectrum into the atmosphere, leaving behind the red wavelength, which is the longest and the least likely to scatter. This is why the moon looks red during a lunar eclipse, and this is why sunsets are red.

Unlike a solar eclipse, this eclipse is safe to view without any eye protection, and it is visible across a whole continent, whereas solar eclipses are visible in a thin, 250 km region during its path. That will be another post…

Thank You for reading.