From Full Moon to Crescent in Less Than Thirty Minutes

I almost overslept this morning.  Saturday mornings are like that.  Especially when you stay up late to watch a DVD.  But something snapped me awake at 5:45 a.m.  Probably my daily weather alert text message. I jumped out of bed, ran downstairs and yanked open the patio door.  A full moon shone brightly through the bare branches of my backyard silver maple.  Good, I still had time to get dressed, steep some tea and throw the tripod and camera in the car.  Too bad I forgot my coat, scarf and gloves since the temperature hovered just below or around twenty degrees.

I drove west from my house, watching the moon dip slowly closer to the western horizon.  I could still see the brightest stars and Jupiter, but the eastern horizon showed signs of the impending dawn.  I continued north along Desoto Road and again west on Eisenhower until I approached an industrial business park.  I drove down to the end of the street, but didn’t like the look of the western horizon because the cul-de-sac turnaround had lowered in elevation from Eisenhower Road and trees grew to the west, blocking my line-of-site to the horizon.  I retraced my route back to Eisenhower and continued west to 20th street.  I found a west facing driveway that dead ended in a clear field with no trees to the west (just a new housing development huddled on the horizon).  I setup the tripod and took a few preliminary shots to dial in the camera and decide what settings to use (AWB, shutter, aperture, delayed shutter to minimize shake, etc.)

I got settled down a couple of minutes before the official start of the eclipse.  According to the Earthsky post on the lunar eclipse, the official beginning of the event started at 12:46 UTC (that’s 6:46 am Central time for me).  The total eclipse would occur at 14:57 UTC (or 8:57 a.m. Central) which unfortunately for me was ninety minutes after the moon set.  According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac site (which I checked before leaving the house), moonset would occur at 7:29 a.m.  Interestingly, the sunrise would occur one minute before moonset, an indication that we are very close to the Winter Solstice (within ten to eleven days to be precise).

I spent the next forty-five minutes snapping photos every five or ten minutes.  My dad called me just before seven o’clock, asking me if I’d found a spot.  I told him where I was and sheepishly admitted I had forgotten appropriate attire for the cold conditions.  Of course, I sat snugly in my car with the motor running and the heater cranked to eighty degrees while sipping my piping-hot tea.

Just a couple of minutes before the mostly eclipsed moon kissed the western horizon, my dad drove up and brought me a jacket and a pair of gloves.  To be honest, I hadn’t noticed the cold in my excitement to capture the last few minutes of the eclipse.  We chatted for a few minutes, then loaded up the photographic equipment into my car.  I returned the jacket and gloves to my dad and we parted ways.  He headed north on 20th street, and I returned south to Lansing.  I promised Dad I’d upload the photos once I got home.  (Follow this link to the raw/uncut/unedited photos I took this morning of the lunar eclipse).

I’ll leave you with what I judge to be the best of the bunch.  I only cropped them.  I decided against adjusting for brightness or contrast as I don’t have any photo editing software (beyond what comes with Windows 7 and Office 2010).  I hope you enjoy them.  I’m off to run some errands.  Enjoy!

Start of Lunar Eclipse (6:45 a.m. Central)

Ten Minutes Later (6:55 a.m. Central)

Twenty Minutes In (7:05 a.m. Central)

Thirty Minutes In (7:15 a.m. Central)

Haze and Clouds Obscuring Lunar Eclipse

Five Minutes to Moon Set

Two Minutes to Moon Set

Moon Set (10 Dec 2011)

About mossjon314159

Avid reader (see my book reviews and ratings here), amateur astronomer and photographer, sporadic crocheter and Rottweiler spoiler.
This entry was posted in Astronomy, Eclipses, Moon, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to From Full Moon to Crescent in Less Than Thirty Minutes

  1. Pingback: See the Last Lunar Eclipse of 2011 at Dawn | Misty Midwest Mossiness

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