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Catch a Total Lunar Eclipse

  • Oct 8, 2014 · 2:00 AM

Airplane crosses a partially eclipsed moon.

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, October 8th the Moon will be full and eclipsed by the earth. The maximum (midpoint) of the total eclipse occurs at 4:00 AM on the west coast - about 7 AM on the East coast. Here is a list of times for the Eclipse in PDT and EDT.  The eclipse will not be visible to those in Europe.

•  1:15 AM PDT / 4:15 AM EDT Penumbral Eclipse Begins

•  2:14 AM PDT / 5:14 AM EDT Partial Eclipse Begins

• 3:25 AM PDT / 6:25 AM EDT Total Eclipse Begins

• 3:54 AM PDT / 6:54  AM EDT  Greatest Eclipse

• 4:24 AM PDT / (NOT VISIBLE) 7:24 AM EDT Total Eclipse Ends

•  5:34 AM PDT / (NOT VISIBLE) Partial Eclipse Ends

•  6:33 AM PDT / (NOT VISIBLE) Penumbral Eclipse Ends


Unlike the eclipse in April, 2014, the moon will be nearer to the horizon so it will be possible to get a "lunar alignment" shot - especially for those in the EDT timezones where the fully eclipsed moon will be setting just before sunrise. Those in the Central timezone may be in a better position to capture the fully eclipsed moon near the horizon, however since it is likely still be dark enough to see the eclipsed moon.

Get your largest Telephoto lens and/or Telescope and attempt to capture the moon alone.  How large? Anything up to 2000 mm, but preferably larger than 100mm. The good news is that totality lasts quite long - about an hour  so you have plenty of time to takes shots while waiting for clouds to drift through or away.  You can also try to calculate a shot similar to the one below. For everyone in the US the moon will be descending as it is eclipsed.

Moon over San Jose City Hall Rotunda.

What Settings?

A normal moon exposure to get detail is on the order of f/9, ISO 200, 1/100th of a second, however the ECLIPSED moon will require much higher ISO and a longer exposure which may result in some smearing of lunar details. What settings?  f/5.6, ISO 1000, 2 seconds


Creative Ideas To Consider

Using a wider lens, you can attempt to capture the moon as it enters and/or exits totality.  Take shots every 2 minutes (or more frequently) and you can then combine them to form a sequence like above.

See the articles here and here.

Or, you can take our "Catching the Moon" webinar and calculate the ideal spot to get a lunar alignment shot.

Finally, we do encourage you to read the material here to know what you need to consider to plan a "time sequence" shot.

Here is an illustration to help you plan a shot.  Note that the angles shown are approximately correct for almost everyone near San Jose, California.

This illustration depicts the LOWEST position of the moon during totality at about 4:20 AM.  Yes, there is trigonometry.  But here is the takeaway: from the West Coast it will be very hard to get the moon near anything since it will be about 30 degrees high in the sky (60 moon diameters away from the horizon).

It's the equivalent of standing 72 feet away from a 46 foot tall building.  If you can get farther away from a taller building, you can manage to get the moon the same size as a small weather vane.

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  • Steven C.

    In San Jose it was clear, but dew was heavy so some of my shots were clouded over with condensation.

    October 8, 2014

    • Cam M.

      Bruce- sometimes a fan can help, but humidity and the dew point temperature were against me last night. I have have adjustable electrical lens heaters that are specifically designed to keep moisture from forming on the lens that generally do the job. Lots of moisture in the atmosphere made for a very fuzzy moon from my location, about 850' above msl. Lots of micro-climates where I live.

      October 8, 2014

    • Bruce D.

      Sometimes you have to make a micro climate of your own. What you have to do to get that perfect photo right? I had to bring out a fan that night, and it worked good for m, but it was pleasant night too. One of the firsts for me not having to freeze for night sky photography.

      October 9, 2014

  • Bill

    Here in southern Maryland it was overcast with thunder storms so it was a washout here also. Maybe next time.

    October 8, 2014

    • andy m.

      Looking great in San jose!

      1 · October 8, 2014

    • marsha k.

      Clear in Livermore too. Note to self--leave before early am commute.

      1 · October 8, 2014

  • Myer B.

    I saw the Moon through the clouds until the thunderstorms came through no eclipse

    October 8, 2014

  • Eric A.

    Here in North Central AZ, we've got cloud cover for over 100 mi in each direction. Looks like a shut out for those of us in the Prescott area. :(

    October 7, 2014

  • Steven C.

    Still trying to decide where to go? Coastal areas like San Francisco are likely to be inundated with fog and clouds. Inland areas will offer a better opportunity. We like for detailed weather. See

    October 7, 2014

  • Suzanne G. C. you have a location scouted out?

    October 7, 2014

  • Steven C.

    Interesting thing to note: Uranus will be less than a moon diameter away during totality and perhaps the brightest object near the moon.

    October 6, 2014

  • Rene M.

    Is the group meeting anywhere in particular? I will need some advice on how to set up my shots.

    October 6, 2014

    • Steven C.

      No plans to meet as a group. Checking the current weather forecast it appears that avoiding the coast is a good idea (including avoiding SF) due to fog, humidity and cloud cover.

      October 6, 2014

  • Myer B.

    I will be at Gooseberry Neck Westport Massachusetts at 4 AM EDT

    1 · October 2, 2014

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