For the second November in a row, the Moon was scheduled to take a plunge into the Earth's shadow (only this November it'd be a total eclipse rather than a very near total eclipse). With the forecast for the early morning of November 8th being a bit questionable (and not taking the workday off), my plan was to set an early 5am alarm to check the western sky for clouds. The weather gods ended up being kind as I could see the eclipsed Moon hanging low in the sky with minimal clouds. I threw on street clothes, grabbed the camera waiting on the tripod in the kitchen, and headed out to locate a spot along the street with an unobstructed view of the event.
It was chilly but not frigid (50°) with some scattered clouds amid a pretty transparent sky overall (7/10). There was a sporadic breeze out of the north. I took some time to just visually enjoy the sight of the deep orange lunar disk hanging about 10° above the western horizon between a gap in the trees. It seemed to be a little on the dark side as lunar eclipses go, probably a Danjon 2 by my estimate. I thought about how these events are beautiful occurrences to us but that centuries ago they would likely strike fear and dread to the average person. Iconic Taurus and Orion looked on nearby along with brilliant Mars, but the spot occupied by Luna was devoid of visible stars given my Bortle 8 suburban skyglow.
I racked the telephoto out to 300mm and worked on getting a
focus. I then started firing off a set of shots, altering the exposure time to
hopefully get one close to approximating the visual appearance. I then dropped
the focal length down for some wide-angle shots before calling it a successful
event as the Moon slid further to its approaching western horizon rendezvous.
Downloading the shots to the computer showed that, yet
again, I had managed to just miss the desired razor-sharp focus. To me this is
the Achilles Heel of DSLR cameras – they excel at allowing multiple photos
without worry of film expense and even a digital darkroom, but gone are the
days where you could reliably slide the focus ring all the way over to infinity
and know that you were indeed focused at infinity. Some of it might have been that northerly wind buffeting the tripod a little, but probably 90% of the issue was my not being attentive enough to the focus.
I wonder how many lunar eclipses I’ve now taken in over the years. It would be hard for me to go back and tally them as earlier on I certainly didn’t keep records, at least nothing that survived till now. Whether it’s 10 or 20 I can certainly say that they are one of the most pleasant spectacles that Mother Nature provides.