Total Lunar Eclipse As Seen From Brisbane

June 19, 2011 | By | Add a Comment
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My good friend Tony Surma-Hawes successfully imaged the Total Lunar Eclipse from Brisbane, Australia. One of his images is posted below.  Information about the 16 June 2011 Total Lunar Eclipse can be found here.

Image credit: Tony Surma-Hawes 16 June 2011

Here are his comments about imaging the eclipse:

‘ The settings for the photos are (not very specific), tripod mounted, modded 450D, 75 – 300 mm lens @ 75 mm, f 4.5, ranged between ¼ to 1 second, ISO 800.

“I had been thinking about imaging this eclipse for some months and I had intended to go to a local park and set up my scope for some high resolution images. This is because I don’t have a very good western horizon and the usual venues such as Mt Coot-tha have similar aspects. That was my plan right up to the day before when I started browsing a thread on IceInSpace, and other that not looking forward to pulling down my rig, packing it into the car, setting up again, polar aligning, pulling it all down, then going to work, I considered that going to a location with a cool foreground for some wide-field might be nice (and easier).

I took some wide-field shots of the Moon and planets a year ago from the Kurilpa Bridge overlooking the William Jolly Bridge, but the angles for this event were not the best, so using Google Earth I scouted around and was beginning to resign myself to setting up next to the Riverside Expressway and North Quay, when I notice the Riverside Bikeway and the embedded photo showed almost exactly the framing I wanted. I had decided on my position only hours before I was to attend the session! My fall back if the position was not suitable for whatever reason, I would go an look for other IceInSpacers at New Farm and overlook the Story Bridge.

At 3:00 am the alarm went off and so I rugged up and grabbed my gear and trundled off to the City. I have to say I was more than a little apprehensive walking down the path to the river at this time carrying all of my precious camera gear, but I found the bikeway deserted. There is a viewing platform toward the Kurilpa Bridge but again this did not have the aspect I desired, so I set-up along the path and ran a few test shots. The bridge wasn’t as lit up as I hoped but the longer exposures depicted it well. I started imaging in earnest as the umbra started to seep over the disk. There was another reason that I was keen to try this position: I had always wanted to image the Brisbane Wheel at Southbank.

I abandoned my position around midway through the partial phase to walk toward opposite the Wheel intending to return for the total phase with the photogenic foreground. As I walked the path it suddenly moved under the freeway and the ceiling dropped lower and lower, views toward the river were being very restricted. In the back of my mind I thought that I might be able to capture the eclipse near the Wheel, but as I progressed I was becoming sceptical that I would even image all of the Wheel, let alone any sky with it. I could see the City Cat terminal ahead and saw that it extended out from under the freeway so I thought that I would shoot a couple of shots from there, then return to the William Jolly Bridge. Did you know they lock the terminal after hours? Yes, well, I suppose that is obvious but I didn’t occur to me then. I figured that I had a little more time so I walked a bit further thinking that the angles between the Wheel and the Moon were getting better and I though for a split second that I could try and set up on the mud below the path. The things we contemplate and do for our hobby.

I was just about to give up and return to my original position when the path started to emerge, or rather the freeway recede from the river. Suddenly I was able to see the Wheel, Performing Arts Centre, and most importantly, the Moon. The partial phase had almost completed and I started capturing again. The Moon dropped toward the Wheel and I had a great session. I grabbed my gear when the Moon was just below the top and to the left of the Wheel intending to complete the session with the eclipsed Moon setting over the William Jolly Bridge when I noticed the Moon in the spokes of the Wheel. I figured that I would be better served finishing up where I was and the rest, as they say, was history.

I must say that this was probably my most successful imaging sessions. I have seen a few lunar eclipses and it seemed to be one of the darkest that I had ever seen. Next time I hope that I would be able to set up a scope for high resolution, and a camera lens for wide-field, but I don’t think that I will be as lucky to have such a great subject in the foreground. I hope that others got up early and saw this event, in the least I hope my experience will encourage others to make an effort for the next one, which incidentally begins on the 1th of December 2011. That one occurs at a more civilised time and I will be able to observe it from home in my back yard… Hmmm… Wide-field will be a problem.’

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