Forget gazing at the stars, people’s eyes were on the big, bright moon and the total lunar eclipse that occurred last Wednesday night and into the early hours of Thursday morning.
Among many who chose to stay up and witness the rare cosmic treat was Wahgunyah resident, Simon Ginns.
Simon captured the astronomical event beautifully and did his homework before setting up his camera to look at the night sky.
He explained there were three separate astronomical events occurring at the same time – a super moon (a full moon that approximately coincides with the closest distance that the moon reaches to Earth in its elliptic orbit, resulting in a slightly larger-than-usual size as seen from Earth), a blue moon (the second full moon in a calendar month) and a blood moon (another name for a total lunar eclipse).
Simon said a total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth’s shadow moves across the moon, blocking out the light from the sun.
The name “blood moon” comes from the deep red colour the moon turns during the eclipse.
This event was the first total lunar eclipse since 2015 (anywhere in the world) and is the first of two total lunar eclipses this year that will be visible right across Australia, Asia, the west coast of North America and the Pacific.
The second will occur during the early hours of July 28, 2018.
Simon shared some tips for photographing a lunar eclipse.
“Do your homework. Find out the start and finish time of the eclipse and use the to work out how high in the sky the moon will be,” he said.
“An eclipse earlier in the evening or later in the morning will place the moon closer to the horizon and will allow you to add some nice foreground interest, such as hills or a city skyline in your photo. “If the eclipse occurs close to midnight (as this one did) you are stuck with just photographing the moon itself.
“Use a telephoto lens (or maximum zoom on your camera). Use the longest focal length lens you own. Something with 200 millimetres and above will get the moon to a significant size in your frame and really show the color and detail on the moon’s surface.
“A stable tripod and remote shutter release are essential. Your camera must be really still. Any movement or vibration in your camera will blur your photos and the longer your lens the worse the problem becomes.
“If you don’t have a remote shutter release, use the self-timer function so your camera has time to settle after you push the shutter release button.
“Use a mid range aperture. Image quality is directly influenced by the aperture setting you choose. When lenses are used at extreme settings, problems such as diffraction and astigmatism can lead to a loss of resolution and contrast.
“Use a (relatively) fast shutter speed. Try to use a shutter speed of 1/50th of a second or faster. Even though your camera may be absolutely still on a tripod, a lot of other things are moving. The earth is rotating on its axis and the moon and earth are both traveling along their orbital paths. If you leave your shutter open for too long this motion will “smear” the moon across the picture and make it look blurry and indistinct.”
The Free Press hopes this information is helpful for budding photographers who hope to capture the second total lunar eclipse on July 28.