I present a 2-minute music video featuring time-lapse movies and still images of the total eclipse of the Moon, on September 27/28, 2015.
As it does at every total lunar eclipse, the Full Moon turns deep red as it enters Earth’s umbral shadow, due to red sunlight filtering through Earth’s atmosphere and illuminating the Moon.
I shot the eclipse under perfectly clear skies at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, overlooking the Milk River in southern Alberta, and near the Montana border.
Music is the selection “Tree of Life” by Audiomachine (audiomachine.com) and licensed for social media use.
The main time-lapse sequences of the eclipse are:
This shows the Moon rising in partial eclipse, and entering deeper into the umbral shadow as it rises, then moving through totality. The sky darkens as it would anyway due to the fall of night, but also because the normally bright Full Moon darkens due to the eclipse. So the stars appear in the sky. The Moon then leaves the umbra, with the Moon becoming an overexposed blob of light and the sky re-brightening to a bright blue.
I shot the 530 images for this sequence with a Canon 6D camera at ISO 800 to 3200 and a 35mm lens set at f/2 to f/2.8. Exposures varied from 1/1600 second at moonrise to 30 seconds at mid-totality, then back down to 1 second at the end as the Moon left the frame.
Exposure shifts were accomplished first with the camera on Av Auto Exposure, then manually once the sky got darker.
Intervals went from 15 seconds for the initial frames, to 30 seconds from totality onward.
All frames were processed Camera Raw and with LRTimelapse to smooth brightness changes and remove flickering.
The composite still image that follows this time-lapse is made of 40 exposures from this sequence, selected at 5-minute intervals and composited in Photoshop onto a background sky image from near mid-totality.
The composite shows the true size of the Moon and its motion path against the sky, unlike most lunar eclipse composites that stack enlarged telephoto-lens disks unrealistically onto a sky, in the wrong place and at the wrong size.
I shot this sequence through a telescope on an equatorial mount tracking the Moon (more or less!).
It shows the Moon entering the umbra during deep twilight, then turning deep red during totality as it moves against the background stars. This movement is due to the Moon’s orbital motion around the Earth, the same motion that takes it through Earth’s shadow and creates the eclipse.
The Moon then emerges from the umbra in the final partial eclipse, returning to a bright Full Moon.
I shot these with a 94mm aperture f/5.5 refractor (a TMB) on a Sky-Watcher HEQ5 mount.
The 730 images for this sequence went from 1/250 second for the shots in twilight, to 8 seconds for the shots during mid-totality, then back to 1/1600 second for the final shots of the penumbral eclipsed Moon at the end. All were at ISO 400. The interval was 15 seconds between frames.
All exposure shifting was performed manually by stepping the shutter speed by a third of an f-stop every few minutes. It was an intense shoot!
Because the equatorial mount was not precisely polar aligned at first (I set up before sunset and started shooting at sunset) the lunar disk shifted around the frame during the shoot, despite the motor running at the lunar tracking rate.
Therefore, I had to align each of the 730 images to ensure the Moon’s disk was centred in the final frames used to create the movie. I did this manually with Photoshop, as its Auto Align Layers feature would not work on such an image. Performing the alignment took several days of tedious work, carried out over 2 years!
The alternate effect of the stars staying fixed and the Moon moving across the frame from right to left, while very neat, was not a realistic option this night, as the mount would have had to have been accurately polar aligned the night before for this to work. I wanted to shoot from the scenic site of Writing-on-Stone, requiring portable gear set up the evening of the eclipse.
• The next total lunar eclipse occurs before sunrise on the morning of January 31, 2018 as seen from western North America. Eastern North America sees only the initial partial phases.
• A total lunar eclipse on July 27/28, 2018 is visible from the eastern hemisphere (Africa, Asia and Australia, but not at all from North America).
• The total eclipse of January 20/21, 2019, the third of three total lunars in a row at 6-month intervals in 2018/19, is visible from all of North and South America.
For detailed information about coming solar and lunar eclipses, including times and regions of visibility, please visit eclipsewise.com
— Alan, November 30, 2017