Tomorrow there will be a total lunar eclipse (July 27th, 2018 from 17:14:49-23:28:37 UTC). During this event, I, and my fellow Americans, will be on the daylight side of earth and therefore, sadly, will not get to witness or capture the magnificence. Earlier this year, I was on the nighttime side of the earth during the blue moon eclipse of January 31st, 2018.
On that night I drove from Phoenix, AZ to Joshua Tree, CA (and back) and captured three timelapse sequences. See two of the three below. I’ll be publishing the finished products over the next few weeks, so be sure to check back, but here’s what’s ready to show now!
Blue Moon Eclipse Path Timelapse
This timelapse sequence shows the path of the moon through the sky during the blue moon eclipse. Each frame of the video represents 30 seconds of exposure time. Before the eclipse begins, the landscape appears to be lit by the sun. But that’s actually the moon lighting the scene. And, if you look closely, you can see the stars shining as well.
When the eclipse begins, the available light dims dramatically. The changing light causes the landscape to darken nearly to black and with less light scattered through earth’s atmosphere, the sky darkens to reveal the stars.
Blue Moon Eclipse Cast Light Timelapse
Facing away from the moon, I was able to capture this sequence using the light cast by the moon. Watch the brightness and color temperature change as the earth’s shadow falls across the moon and causes its light to dim and redden.
Blue Moon Eclipse Info
The Lunar Eclipse of January 31st, 2018 was a rare overlapping of several astronomical events. The events which coincided, from most to least frequent were:
- Full Moon
- Blue Moon
- Lunar Eclipse
A blue moon is the second full moon within a calendar month. A lunar eclipse will always occur on a full moon. Geometry requires it. Therefore, we can drop “Full” from the name, as Blue Moon and Lunar Eclipse both imply a full moon.
Then we’re left with a Blue Moon Lunar Eclipse, a Blue Moon Eclipse, or as I like to call it, a “Blunar Eclipse”. No one else has called it that though. My Astrophysics teacher from High School says it was a Blue Moon Eclipse. Blue Moon Eclipse sounds professional. Blunar Eclipse sounds made up, but it makes me smile!
Joshua Tree National Park as a Shooting Location
I love photographing in Joshua Tree National Park, and have returned there many times. It is a beautiful location with many large rock features and strange trees that seem straight out of a Dr. Seuss illustration.
Secluded from city light pollution, the park has beautiful views in every direction and dark skies. The rocks reflect lots of light and don’t move in the wind, so I know I can capture them clearly at long exposures.
I felt confident that I could find a spot where I could set up cameras near one another looking in opposite directions and each would be an interesting composition. It was for these reasons I felt justified in taking a 10 hour round trip drive.
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