total lunar eclipse

Last Night’s Total Lunar Eclipse Was Worth The Frozen Hands

Armed with a cheap DSLR and a Celestron 8SE, I headed out in my front yard to take a stab at astrophotography. I figured a total lunar eclipse was a good way to finally get started with it. Yeah, I instantly regretted not learning all the ins and outs on a warmer night. Fiddling with camera settings with the wind chill in the teens wasn’t fun.

But after a few minutes, I snapped a picture of the moon that showed I was on the right track. The focus wasn’t perfect, but I liked it. Here’s the moon a few minutes after the partial lunar eclipse began.

I ran back inside to warm up and catch another episode of The Punisher as I waited for the total lunar eclipse to start.

About five minutes before totality was set to begin, I headed back outside. It was a little eerie not seeing the frosty grass shining in the moonlight. I looked up and saw a slice of the moon starting to turn a coppery red. It doesn’t come close to topping the solar eclipse from 2017, but it was still an awesome moment. And worth the cold breeze slicing through me like a knife.

I ran over to my telescope, hooked up my Nikon and started taking pictures. After messing with the camera settings one more time, I snapped this.

Here are the settings I used:

Camera: Nikon D3300

ISO: 6400

Exposure: ⅙ sec

I had it hooked straight into the telescope via a T-ring (no lens attached).

Both the camera and the telescope aren’t ideal for astrophotography (especially deep space), but it worked like a charm last night. Now I’m surfing Amazon and astrophotography forums for the best equipment and techniques for shooting the night sky. The astrophotography bug has bitten me.

I can’t wait for the moon to go away so I can try shooting Jupiter and Saturn.

Missed last night’s eclipse? You’ll have to wait until 2021 to get another chance at seeing a total lunar eclipse. I’m waiting for the next total solar eclipse in the U.S. in 2024. After catching it with the naked eye in 2017, I’ll be taking a road trip with my telescope for this one.

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