Lunar Eclipse at Maryborough Station

With this lunar eclipse starting low in the sky, I decided to try and capture an image sequence of the partial phases showing the type of photography that can be done with simple gear and 'night sky photography' techniques. After some on-line and on-ground scouting around my new home territory in central Victoria, I settled on the grand old Maryborough Railway Station as my location, which *just* allowed me the sight lines on the eclipse I needed, or at least so I thought from Google Earth and Streetview.

Partial Phases of Lunar Eclipse over Maryborough Station
Canon 5D Mark II, 24-105mm lens at 82mm
Nine exposures of the Moon each 1/90 sec, f/8, ISO200 stacked (using lighten blending mode) with one 2 second exposure of foreground.

Execution went mostly to plan and this result is close to what I had in mind, except that the car park and grounds at the station had been significantly reworked since Google Earth/Streetview was last there so that threw out my planning a little. I was using a tall ladder to gain a little extra clearance over the roof of the station, hoping to pick up an image of the Moon at the end of totality, but my compass alignment wasn't quite accurate enough and so that happened behind the clock tower. Still I wanted the action to be close to the tower and the centre of the frame so I'm happy with how this worked out. I have several other versions of the foreground during twilight to experiment with as well.

First Glimpse of the still (just) totally eclipsed Moon

Of course I did have my Takahashi FS-102 with me as well and set that up about 100m away from where the ladder was for the composite shot. That meant a lot of running back and forth between the two during the night! While still trying to align the equatorial mount, I got my first glimpse of the Moon still totally eclipsed at 6:15pm ten minutes before the end of totality, just as it cleared the low tree on the horizon. Binoculars made a it a lot easier to see and provided a beautiful view. I can't imagine it would have been visible much before that, even without the tree. I had to point it out to the others at the station who were, understandably from the media reports, expecting something a little brighter! The early partial phases looked beautiful low in the sky and were much more obvious.

Single frame, Canon 6D with Takahashi FS-102 and 1.6x Tak extender and 1.4x Canon teleconverter giving 1800mm at f18

Here's a single shot through the scope processed to reduce the contrast between light and shadow. Normally this sort of processing looks nothing like the visual experience but I was surprised how low the brightness difference looked visually in binoculars. This image is not *that far* from the visual experience as it might seem.

I was using Magic Lantern on the 6D to capture large bracketed sequences through the scope in the hope of creating some nice HDR shots of the partial phases. Processing of those will have to wait for another day.

Behind the Scenes

The ladder I setup for the composite image at the top

The scope setup 150m away from the ladder.. a lot of running involved!



Beautiful Phil