What You Need to Know for the Blood Moon this Sunday, January 20th, 2019: How To See it and Tips on Photographing Lunar Eclipses | Laramie, Wyoming Photographer

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What is so special about this Total Lunar Eclipse?

Don’t miss the lunar eclipse this Sunday and look up to see the blood moon the night of January 20th, 2019, visible across the US! Your next chance to see a total lunar eclipse won’t be until May 2021 and the last total lunar eclipse that was visible across the contiguous U.S. was in the fall of 2015. During a lunar eclipse, the moon will in fact turn red, or into a blood moon, during the dramatic lunar eclipse this Sunday, January 20th, 2019. The phenomenon of a total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes through the Earth’s shadow, called the Umbra, which darkens the Moon’s surface into a blood red color. The reddish color is from the red spectrum of sunlight as it is bent through the Earth’s atmosphere and reflects back off the moon’s surface. So when exactly can you see this rare blood moon?

When to View the Blood Moon:

The specific parts of the eclipse will occur at the following times (in Mountain Standard Time) viewable in Laramie, Centennial, and South East Wyoming, weather permitting:

Partial eclipse begins: 8:34 PM
Total eclipse begins: 9:41 PM
Total eclipse ends: 10:44 PM
Partial eclipse ends: Around 12:00 AM.

You can view lunar eclipses safely with the naked eye, however binoculars or telescopes are definitely preferred. The next total lunar eclipse visible from Wyoming will be in May of 2021 so lets hope for clear skies and don’t forget to look up!

Tips for Photographing A Total Lunar Eclipse:

  • Use a long telephoto lens. Use a focal length of at least 200 or 300 mm or more and be sure to use a good solid tripod along with a shutter release or timer so you can minimize camera shake
  • Use manual exposure. As the eclipse starts, the brightness of the moon will get darker, and thus you will also need to constantly re-adust your exposure. A good starting exposure for a normal full moon is about 1/125th of a second @ f/11, ISO 200. During a total eclipse, the moon is about 8 full stops darker than a normal full moon, so as the eclipse progresses increase your ISO and your shutter speed to compensate. During the eclipse, use a shutter speed faster than about 1 or 2 seconds (the longer your focal length the faster your shutter needs to be to prevent blurring) so the details on the moon don’t blur, shoot using your widest aperture, and then adjust your ISO to a larger number.
  • Use manual focus. Turn off your autofocus and with to manual focus and set it to infinity on your lens. Every lens has it’s own sweet spot where the focus is sharp. Make sure to keep your aperture smaller than f/11 to prevent diffraction
  • Keep shooting and experiment. Always keep experimenting and try different settings and techniques to see what you can come up with but most of all, have fun!

Can I still see it if it’s cloudy?

Just in case the skies aren’t clear, the Slooh observatory will livestream this total lunar eclipse from their observatories in the Canary Islands and Chile. Slooh Astronomer Paul Cox will be tuning in with us live from a very special location and Dr. Paige Godfrey and Storyteller Helen Avery will be here to talk about eclipse science and cultural reflection.

Click here to learn more and view the live cast.

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