Sunday, September 27, 2015

Supermoon Lunar Eclipse - near Snoqualmie, WA Sept. 27, 2015

(from the Under a Blood Red Moon department)

Hi everyone,

There was a lunar eclipse on Sunday, September 27, 2015.  In addition, it was a supermoon - which means that the moon was at its closest approach to the earth and appeared roughly 14% larger. 

We had arranged to meet with some of Rose's school friends at a park near Snoqualmie, WA.  At the last minute, I dug my telescope out, and hastily hand calibrated it, eyeballing the finer adjustments.  (Traditional reflecting telescopes need this from time to time, and mine was overdue.)  We jumped in the car, and headed out.

By the time we got to the park - around 7:30 PM or so - the eclipse was just about entering totality.  The park was jammed - we were very lucky to find parking just inside the park gate.  We were also very lucky to find Rose's schoolmates and their parents in the darkness.  While Dana and Rose chatted with their friends, I aligned my telescope's equatorial mount to true north by locating Polaris and dialed in the lunar eclipse.

We all took turns looking through the eyepiece.  It was gorgeous.  Also - there wasn't much light pollution at the park, so the Milky Way was clearly visible overhead.  We saw satellites and shooting stars.  The kids ran around - then looked through the telescope.  I chatted about astronomy, and kept the telescope targeted on the moon.  Folks wandered by and chatted - I shared moon views with them.  It was a lot of fun.

Then, I had a weird idea.

I wondered if I could just hold my cellphone up to the telescope eyepiece and take a picture.  Well - the results are below:

(Shh - don't tell the others, but this one is my favorite)

Just to be clear - these aren't professional - it was a weird juggling trick to get the cellphone lens to stay straight enough against the telescope eyepiece.  Also - because of my telescope - they're upside down.  Still - they came out a lot better than I expected.

As the eclipse ended, you could see the moon emerge from the earth's shadow:

At that point, it was too bright for my poor Nokia Lumia 920 camera sensor to deal with.  In fact, the supermoon was so bright after the eclipse, it lit up the valley.  You couldn't see the Milky Way any more, and only a few of the brighter stars were visible.  Here's a shot after the eclipse, showing the valley below the park:

The good news is that we didn't need a flashlight to get back to our car.


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