Okay, so I’m a bit of a space nerd… Love staring at the night sky watching the stars and trying to touch the moon. Being a photographer and always on assignment, its tough to just say “Hey, I’m shooting for myself today and that’s that!” Not only is December 10th my birthday but this year, it was also a total lunar eclipse! The last one was in June earlier this year and the next one won’t be for another 3 years. (April 15th 2014 – mark your calendars!)
Being in Hawaii for the holidays, I was in luck to have a front row viewing of the eclipse, thought to be one of the best in decades due to the lack of air pollution, generally caused by active volcanoes. 2:00 a.m. rolled around I got up to find it raining and overcast. I wasn’t too worried as 2:50 was showtime, and the start of the lunar eclipse when the the Earth’s shadow started to be cast on the moon. At 3:00am, the rain started to let up and I ventured down to Waikiki Beach. To my surprise setting up a tripod on the beach at 3:00 is not uncommon…especially during a lunar eclipse. I found myself with dozens of other people lining the sidewalks and pier staring in the same direction, with cameras ready for action.
Since I was shooting for myself and not on a “real” assignment, I decided to try something new: Time Lapse Photography. This is where you use a Digital SLR, set it to take multiple shots in intervals. Then you combine all the image like a flip book at 30 frames per second to look like a video.
For those that enjoy the “nerd-ie-ness factor” here goes: Total Lunar Eclipse is where the path of the Earth passes in front of the sun blocking light to the moon. We see the moon because it is reflecting the light from the sun. 1/2 the moon is always lit by the sun. Depending on the moon’s location to the left or right of the earth, is where we get to see waning or waxing crescents. We are seeing a part of the lit side of the moon, and dark side of the moon at the same time. This is normal. Lunar Eclipses happen rarely due to timing of the sun, moon and Earth being in a direct line. What we see is a full moon then the it starts to go dark due to the earth’s shadow. When the Moon is completely covered by the shadow we have an eclipse, the interesting part is that the moon turns red! Why is this? Well, wavelengths from the sun have to travel across our atmosphere and lighting the moon. Ever notice that sunrise and sunsets have spectacular orange lighting? That’s due to sunlight having to travel a longer distance through our atmosphere.
Okay enough with the nerd factor, now the cool stuff, Pictures and Video!
Since I was already up and it was only another hour till moon set. I decided to point my camera towards Waikiki and get a time lapse of the moon setting. You can actually see the lights of a few boats heading out, as well as the planes taking off from Honolulu International Airport. And at one point someone wades out into the ocean, so look for the floating head at 47 seconds.