Friday, April 4, 2014

Lunar Eclipse April 15, 2014

Lunar eclipse courtesy of NASA
The first of four total lunar eclipses that will occur in a row over the next two years starts on the morning of April 15. When you get four lunar eclipses in a row it is known as a tetrad.  Here is information from NASA: "During the 21st century, there are 9 sets of tetrads, so I would describe tetrads as a frequent occurrence in the current pattern of lunar eclipses," says Espenak. "But this has not always been the case. During the three hundred year interval from 1600 to 1900, for instance, there were no tetrads at all."
The April 15th eclipse begins at 2 AM Eastern time when the edge of the Moon first enters the amber core of Earth’s shadow.  Totality occurs during a 78 minute interval beginning around 3 o’clock in the morning on the east coast, midnight on the west coast.  Weather permitting, the red Moon will be easy to see across the entirety of North America.
Why red?
A quick trip to the Moon provides the answer: Imagine yourself standing on a dusty lunar plain looking up at the sky. Overhead hangs Earth, nightside down, completely hiding the sun behind it. The eclipse is underway.
You might expect Earth seen in this way to be utterly dark, but it's not. The rim of the planet is on fire! As you scan your eye around Earth's circumference, you're seeing every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once. This incredible light beams into the heart of Earth's shadow, filling it with a coppery glow and transforming the Moon into a great red orb."

I will be spending the night at the Stone Barn to observe and photograph the eclipse, weather permitting. The partial umbral eclipse will begin approximately at 1:58 AM with the total eclipse beginning at 3:07 AM and finally ending at 5:33 AM. I have plotted out the location of the moon utilizing The Photographer's Ephemeris. The Photographer's Ephemeris is available as a paid download for the iPhone, iPad or android phone. It is a free download for your desktop http://photoephemeris.com/tpe-for-desktop



For those who would like to photograph the eclipse, you have options to what size lens you want to utilize. A wide-angle lens will give you a small moon but allow you to either make a moon trail or stack pictures together to show the movement of the Moon and eclipse on a single photograph. A medium telephoto lens will allow you to have some of the horizon in the picture and finally a long telephoto lens will give you a larger picture of the moon.

The camera should be on a sturdy tripod and a remote/wired cable release is useful. A headlamp or a flashlight, better with a red light (get some red cellophane and attach it around the front of the flashlight with a rubber band) because you will need to change camera settings as the moon becomes darker. At full eclipse the moon should be orange to red which gives it the name of a blood moon. The color is due to the dispersed light from all of the earth sunrises and sunsets falling on the face of the moon at mid eclipse.

I will have available the settings that you will need to use to photograph at the Barn.

Everyone is welcome, we will have hot drinks, snacks and because we are at the Stone Barn bathrooms. Dress appropriately and I hope to see you there. Registration is free abd you can sign up at http://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/program-catalog#program:program_code=33717

Directions to the To Sanctuary Entrance at Stone Barn Farm Latitude/Longitude 41.524741, -71.019333
From Interstate 195, in Westport, take Exit 10 (Rt 88 South). Follow Route 88 for 7.2 miles through three lights to intersection with Hixbridge Rd at 4th light. Turn left onto Hixbridge Rd and proceed 1.5 miles to stop sign at Pine Hill Rd and Horseneck Rd. Turn right onto Horseneck Rd. Proceed 3.3 miles to corner with East Horseneck Rd and turn left. Stone Barn Farm entrance will be 0.4 miles further on your right at 786 E. Horseneck Rd. in Dartmouth.



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