Supermoon With a Super Eclipse

The Astro Babes were together watching the mosquito-filled eclipse Sunday night. We watched the Moon darkening over the bay of Green Bay, which added a whole new dimension to the eclipse. The moonlight was very bright and sparkly on the water when we first arrived at the beach, but the reflection also faded with the Moon until it also disappeared.

Although we originally had planned to complete the requirements for the Astronomical League’s Lunar II observing program, we had been promised a solid wall of clouds all night so weren’t prepared when the skies cleared and the eclipse was in full swing. Thanks, weather guys.

Yesterday we heard from our fellow club member Rodrigo. Once again, he compiled a great montage from Sunday’s total lunar eclipse over Wisconsin. Thanks for sharing, Rodrigo!!

Moon Eclipse 9-27-2015 low

Here’s what Rodrigo had to say about his amazing picture:

This one is a composition of different times (20 min intervals) from 8:00 pm to 10:50 pm. The pictures are exposed to match what I saw naked eye. So some of the faces are actually HDR of the moon shoot so the bright portion is not overexposed (moon #4 and #8). I used my Orion 80mm and tracked with my small Meade LXD 75 and Canon no mod Xsi. The first portion was between 1/400s and 0.3″,  ISO 200 and Totality was 8s ISO 200, and then I used ISO 400 and cut the exposure to 4″ due to the wind.

Supermoon Eclipse!

Finally!! A celestial event that is both at a reasonable hour and visible from home. How often does that happen? I’m of course talking about the upcoming total lunar eclipse! I think Universe Today said it best by calling it the “Super-Harvest-Blood-Moon Total Lunar Eclipse.

Graphic from Space.com
Graphic from Space.com

So let’s start with Super. The moon’s orbit around the sun is elliptical, not circular. This means that it’s not always the same distance from the earth. On Sunday evening it will be at what is called Perigee, or at its closest to the earth. It will appear about 14% bigger than at other times.

Supermoon

 

Next up – Harvest. The Harvest moon is simply the closest full moon to the Autumnal Equinox which is when day and night are each about 12 hours long and the sun rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west. This was September 23.

Now the creepy – Blood. I have to confess  – I don’t really know much about this term. It has something to do with prophecies and apocalyptic whoo ha and frankly if you really want to know more about that you’re on your own!

And finally the big one – Eclipse!! This occurs when the sun is opposite the moon, and the moon, earth and sun are lined up so that the moon will pass through the earth’s shadow, temporarily blinking it out. The shadow has two parts, the Penumbra which is the dimmer outer shadow, and the Umbra which is the darker center. The moon will pass through both the penumbra and the umbra during this event.

lunar-eclipse-luc-viatour-small

Hopefully Lynn and I will be watching and recording all the necessary contact information and feverishly making sketches for our Luney II observing program. Or maybe we’ll just kick back in our lawn chairs and enjoy the show. Either way – it should be a great show!

Amy

Lunar Eclipse

This past Wednesday morning we were treated to a total lunar eclipse. The fact that the earth’s shadow even exists usually escapes us. On most nights the moon seems to glide across the night sky uninterrupted. Every so often, the moon passes through the earth’s shadow, giving us a spectacular show.

This one was to be quite early, so the decision to crawl out of bed at 4am was a tough one for me.  Should I make the trek out to our observing site or pull the covers up and snuggle in for another couple of hours? The trees on my street were in full strut with their red-orange leaves making it impossible for me to watch this one through the mini-blinds in my living room.

I rolled out of bed, threw some clothes on over my P.J.’s, grabbed my binoculars and off I went. A beautiful clear sky rewarded me when I arrived. A dozen hearty souls were already there with telescopes and binoculars already watching the eclipse.

First order of business – coffee and Twizzlers – both are observing staples with our club.

After Goldilocks-ing it down the row of binoculars and telescopes I thought I’d try some projection astro-photography. In other words, hold your smart phone camera up to the eyepiece and try to capture a photograph. It’s not as easy as it sounds! So here’s my only picture of the eclipse.

Lunar Eclipse

Too bad the clouds rolled in and spoiled the view. The invention of a cloud filter would be greatly appreciated!

Back at home I crawled back into bed hoping for about 90 minutes of zzzzzz’s. If only I hadn’t had that coffee………

Here’s hoping for a better report of the up coming partial solar eclipse on October 23rd!

Amy

One Small Step……..

apollo 11
Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Apollo 11 Astronauts

This past weekend we celebrated the historic moon walk, and success of Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins. It was one of those moments in time that remain engraved in ones memory, as clear as the day it happened.

I was a 10 year old kid on a family vacation. My brave parents bundled up six kids in a station wagon, attached a pop-up camper and headed westward. Our goal was the same as many Midwest families: Yellowstone. But the timing of this particular vacation overlapped a significant historic event, the moon landing!

Not to worry! My parents had the good sense to plan ahead and find a campground with a working TV.

Being only 10, I wasn’t really sure what was happening, but I could tell it was big. All the campers headed to the building, filling the tiny room. When I realized what I was about to witness I was stunned. My world just got a whole lot bigger.

I stared at the TV so hard I thought I’d get sucked up into it.  I remember it all; those historic first words, that little hop they had to do to get to the surface, everything. The whole world watched as Neil Armstrong took that first step. We actually managed to unite the planet, even if only for a few short moments. I will always be grateful to my parents for making sure we witnessed this historic event.

Neil Armstrong's First Step on Moon

The moon changed forever for me that night. It was no longer just a beautiful addition to our night sky. It had become a place that people had visited. It had become a place that someone had actually reached out and touched. That fact still takes my breath away.

I still am stunned at the beauty of space, what we’ve seen and discovered since then. From planet hunting, visiting asteroids, looking back at Earth from Saturn and roving around Mars, we’ve done some pretty amazing things!

So – where were you on July 20, 1969?

Amy

Armchair Eclipse Watching

Looks like Tony’s done it again! His video of last month’s lunar eclipse was being passed around on a cell phone at the last astronomy club meeting, so I wrote to Tony and ask him if he’d share it with you, too.

Tony said the video shows the moon going from totality to uneclipsed, and displays 2-1/2 hours in 10 seconds. The movie is made up of 270 individual frames – each shot with his Canon T1i DSLR mounted piggyback on his telescope, while it was tracking at the Quantum Skies Observatory in Pulaski.

Exposures at the beginning of the set are ¼ sec at ISO 1600, and those at the end are 1/4000 sec at ISO 800 (factor of 2000x brighter/dimmer!)  The frames were taken about 30 seconds apart, so while the video comprises 2-1/2 hours of real-time, when run back at 30 frames per second it only lasts ten seconds.

There won’t be any more lunar eclipses visible around Wisconsin in 2014, but next year on September 28th we’ll have another total lunar eclipse visible from all of the continental U.S. We’ll get to see a partial solar eclipse this year on October 23rd, too, although we’re itching to see the total solar eclipse that will fall just 500 miles south of here in 2017. Road Trip!

Thanks again for sharing, Tony!

Lynn & Amy

 

Super Moon – Super Kid

As you well know – on Sunday June 23rd,  we had the appearance of the ‘supermoon’. This time it happened to coincide with the appearance of a ‘superkid’.   I stood in the yard, bathed in the beautiful moonbeams, trying to soak in the moment.  While it’s not an extremely rare event, it doesn’t happen every day. Then just when I thought I’d go inside, my daughter peeked outside and said, “hey mom, put up your telescope so I can take a picture!”

Supermoon2

Well, talk about your rare events! No need to ask twice! I went inside and grabbed my 90mm Meade that sits as a permanent fixture in our family room. I set it up quickly on the back patio. The moon hung just over the neighbors house, a perfect spot. She carefully put her smart phone up to the eyepiece and within seconds had snapped off about four great photos.  Side note – I was a bit jealous that it was so easy for her. I’ve tried to get a good through the eyepiece picture and it’s NOT easy!

Then almost as quickly as it began, it was over. Off she went into the house to share her photo with the world, well, her world anyway.

I’ve been to star parties, seen rare transits, watched eclipses, watched an asteroid tumble by the earth and even met an Apollo astronaut. Of all the rare astronomical events I’ve seen, the most cherished moments are the ones like this, when my children step into my world for a moment and see it the way I do.

Amy