Readers’ wildlife (astronomy) photographs

September 28, 2015 • 7:15 am

As most of you know, last night there was a special total lunar eclipse, one producing a large reddish”blood moon.” It’s not the red color that was unusual, for that occurs during all lunar eclipses (it’s due to the scattering of reflected light by our atmosphere), but that the moon was at its perigee: the lowest point in its orbit, so it looked a tad larger. describes the rarity of these “supermoons”:

Total eclipses of Super Full Moons are rare. According to NASA, they have only occurred 5 times in the 1900s – in 1910, 1928, 1946, 1964 and 1982. After the September 27/ 28, 2015 Total Lunar Eclipse, a Supermoon eclipse will not happen again for another 18 years, until October 8, 2033.

The Guardian has a whole photo gallery from around the world. But Reader Randy Schenck sent photos of the whole event taken from his home in Iowa, one of the places where the eclipse was most visible on our planet. His notes:

The following eight pictures were taken with the regular DMC-FZ200 to record the eclipse.  Started with the full moon before the eclipse began at 7:27 pm. central daylight time as the moon came up in the ESE sky.  It was a clear and perfect evening for this viewing.  .  

Moon Eclipse Sept. 27, 2015 002

The next seven pictures were after the eclipse started as follows:

8:15 p.m.:

Moon Eclipse Sept. 27, 2015 007

8:22 p.m.:

Moon Eclipse Sept. 27, 2015 008

8:35 p.m.:

Moon Eclipse Sept. 27, 2015 009

8:59 p.m.:

Moon Eclipse Sept. 27, 2015 011

9:08 p.m.

Moon Eclipse Sept. 27, 2015 013

9:20 p.m.:

Moon Eclipse Sept. 27, 2015 018

9:35 p.m.:

Moon Eclipse Sept. 27, 2015

32 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife (astronomy) photographs

  1. Sunny all day here, then the clouds rolled in at nightfall. I approximated where the moon should be, and at the designated time threw sticks and stones at the eclipse, until the moon started to reappear (according to my daughter watching the livefeed).

  2. Beautiful pictures. I watched it at 11,000 feet on Trail Ridge Road in Colorado. We saw the Milky Way and several shooting stars. It was spectacular. Unfortunately the world does not appear to have ended so now I must head to work.

    1. Speaking of the shooting stars – during the time shortly after the eclipse went full and the sky was darker, a close in shooting star went by horizontally, much brighter than most we see farther out. It was so fast there was not time to blink or shoot a picture. I almost thought I could hear it but that was most likely the brain playing tricks.

      Certainly not a star as we refer to them as this thing was much closer than the moon.

  3. Randy, thank you for the awesome photos! We were “socked in” here in western South Carolina, so we didn’t see any of the event. Great job!

    1. Same here. Solid cloud cover. Earlier in the day I had prepared my telescope for viewing and taking some pictures of the eclipse, but it was all for nothing.

      When is the next scheduled end of the world? Will I be here to see it?

  4. It was spectacular here in Maine. As seen in Randy’s photos, in the early stage the shadow on the moon was very dark, even looking black. It was only as the moon became fully in shadow that it was illuminated, seemed to be glowing orange and quite visible. Later, when the eclipse was completely finished, the brightness of the moon and the moonlight on the landscape was intense, I assume because of the closeness– the super moon status.

  5. Sadly, I missed it. I just simply forgot, absorbed as I was in grading exams. But it is like many other lunar eclipses that one sees, only a little bigger.

  6. Perfect visibility here in London England, and most of the country too, but the event was in the middle of the night. I set my alarm for 3 15 a.m. and had a good look through my bins.

  7. I am not into astrology, but the ‘astrological’ effect on the tides are swamped by the monthly change (and coastal topography). [ ]

    The effect on the moon angular size and brightness is of course also unnoticeable without instrumentation, re the assumption that “it looked a tad larger”. Here is how the Bad Astronomer describes it:

    “So does this mean the Moon will look huger and brillianter in the sky? Not really. Last month, the full Moon happened when it was just over 358,000 kilometers away—only a little bit farther (by about 1 percent) than it will be this month. Even if you compared last month’s full Moon with this month’s “Supermoon” side-by-side you’d hardly notice it; you’d never notice the difference just by going out one month to look, waiting a month, and looking again.

    Heck, the difference between the two extremes of apogee and perigee is only about 40,000 km (25,000 miles)—about a 10-15 percent difference overall, making the Moon look 10-15 percent bigger at perigee. Even that wouldn’t be spotted by eye, especially with two weeks separating the two observations (not to mention the change in the phase of the Moon throwing your sense of scale off). Also, the Moon is a lot smaller in the sky than you think, so a small change is even harder to spot.”

    [ ; ]

    So the natural monthly orbit change is 10 times larger, which too is unnoticeable. The really remarkable phenomena is that the “supermoon” silliness suppurate seasonally.

    1. If the moon was nearer to the horizon it would seem to be a lot larger (though not really). that would have been a pretty cool illusion to see a seemingly huge blood moon.

    2. Was I just fooling myself about the bright moonlight? I woke up later and thought it must be morning because there was so much light, but it was only 2 a.m. here and predawn light is now much later than that.

      1. To me, any full moon on a clear night can be extremely bright; one can almost discern a few colors under it. Perhaps you had exceptionally clear conditions, esp. if you’ve been used to muggy summer nights for a while.

  8. In somewhat-related news, NASA has promised a “major scientific announcement” pertaining to Mars today, and it has been speculated that the announcement will involve a “source of free-flowing water” on the planet’s surface! (source: CBS news website)

  9. Great photos! The view was excellent here in central Canada too. I see others have mentioned shooting stars, I also saw two of them, a nice long horizontal one and a very bright vertical one. The best lunar eclipse I’ve experienced!

  10. Nice shots Randy!
    I was pleased to see the camera type mentioned as I recently purchased the FZ-300 (to be delivered this week.) I am curious what camera settings you used to get these shots if you don’t mind sharing. Any other thoughts or tips about using the Lumix would also be appreciated. Thanks.

    1. There are some real experts that follow this site in the photography world but I am not one of them. I simply had the thing on automatic and zoomed in all the way. I did usually hit the focus button because the camera had a hard time getting into focus. Surely some manual settings with a slowed down shutter speed would do better but you probably need to be on a tripod for that.

      There are some good lessons on this camera on YOU TUBE by an English gentleman.

  11. Amazing. I saw the same thing last night.

    Seriously, why can’t such events illustrate the illogical thinking of a religious believer. We never get global viewings of angels or demons. Not even one crocoduck fossil. The mental dissonance must really be like cocaine for the faithful.

  12. I did try to see the moon, but it was all cloudy. I also like the prophecies of end times. This is how people in ye olden days must have felt.

  13. Thought it was going to be cloudy all night, but when I took the dogs out around midnight I discovered that the clouds had thinned just enough at just the right spot to see the eclipse recede–got some OK shots with my P&S. Spookily awesome as always! Sadly I saw no shooting stars.

    Thanks for the wonderful progression, Andy!

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