Eclipses: 2017 Solar Eclipse and 2019 Lunar Eclipse

Two recent eclipse adventures include the August 2017 Solar Eclipse and the January 2019 Lunar Eclipse. Here are notes and photos from each of these events.

2017 Solar Eclipse

As the Sun, Moon, and Earth move in their generally circular patterns they occasionally lie on a straight line such that the Sun's light cannot reach the Moon or the Earth. These images represent our excursion to the southern limit of a Solar eclipse by the Moon on August 21, 2017. The expected eclipse was widely advertised resulting in traffic jams from all directions to predicted locations of total eclipse. Our primary Department of Physics moved to a Central Kansas location and we elected a southern location in Concordia, KS. Such strategies are commonly employed in order to be sure of some data if not the best.

Figure 1. The traffic moving through the generally agricultural city of Concordia, KS
Figure 2. The observing location and equipment consisting of 5-inch and a 2-inch refracting telescopes having dark, solar filters which reduced the light level to a manageable level. Recording consisted of Nikon D80 snapshots through the 5-inch telescope and b/w video through the 2-inch telescope.

Eclipse Images

These photos are selected from a group of about 300 obtained by dynamically selecting the camera aperture and exposure time by way of the USB connection to the laptop computer. The solar eclipse is one of the most interesting in that a central observation shows spartkling rays of light passing through the valleys between the mountains on the moon.

Figure 3. Snapshot of the starting solar image. Note the Sunspots and the slight haze due to the generally partially Clouded sky.
Figure 4. Beginning of the occultation of the solar disk by the moon.
Figure 5. The closest approach of the moon and sun to the common line. A few miles north even this small sliver of sunlight will have disappeared.
Figure 6. An hour or so later the moon has disappeared on the opposite side of the image. Almost time to pack up and go home.

January 2019 Lunar Eclipse

A lunar eclipse during which the Earth prevents the sunlight from reaching the moon is less dramatic from that point of view but is, in a different way, quite dramatic. At the moment of totality the color of the moon changes from the familiar near white to red or orange.

While we had not expected a clear sky, we set up for casual observation of such an eclipse on January 21, 2019.

Figure 7. (Image 1304) The moon i sbright and the Sun is behind the Earth
Figure 8. (Image 1312) The Earth moves to occult the Moon or did the Moon move?
Figure 9. (Image 1315) Just a small amount more movement.
Figure 10. (Image 1325) Almost fully covered but the image of the Earth is fuzzy (called penumbra)
Figure 11. (Image 1331) Almost totally covered by the Earth. This is why its called a "Red Moon". At just this time for a few minutes.
Figure 12. (Image 1341) If the camera exposure is increased the stars are visible.

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