Unlike a total lunar eclipse — when the moon passes centrally through the Earth’s dark shadow, or umbra, and the moon turns deep red in color — a penumbral eclipse merely grazes the umbra’s dusky outer fringes. The result is a slight brownish shading on the moon’s edge closest to the umbra. This sequence captured by Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre from Rockport, Massachusetts, shows the deep penumbral eclipse of March 14, 2006. This event was followed two weeks later by a 4-minute-long total eclipse of the sun, which Imelda and Edwin observed from Salloum, Egypt, near the border with Libya. See: Hunting Eclipses: A Photo Expedition.
Edwin Aguirre and Imelda Joson used a Canon EOS 20D digital SLR camera attached to a Takahashi FS-78 apochromatic refractor mounted on a Manfrotto geared head and tripod to shoot the penumbral eclipse of 2006. To minimize image-blurring vibrations, they used the camera’s reflex mirror lock-up feature as well as an electronic cable release to operate the shutter. This particular scene was taken at Horn Pond in Woburn, Massachusetts. The bright streak in the sky at left was caused by a passing plane.
A telescope or telephoto lens is needed to take detailed, close-up shots of the moon, such as this lunar portrait captured by Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre with a Takahashi FS-78 refractor, which has a focal length of 630 millimeters. Notice the dark areas on the lunar surface, which early observers mistakenly believed as bodies of water and gave them the name “maria” (Latin for “seas”). These actually represent lowlands that were filled millions of years ago with molten lava, which solidified to form relatively smooth plains. In addition to the lighter lunar highlands pockmarked with countless craters, you can see several impact features exhibiting bright splash patterns, including Tycho (at lower right) and Copernicus and Kepler (lower left of center).
Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre created this panorama of the full moon rising over Motif No. 1, a famous landmark in Rockport, Massachusetts, as the moon emerged from the deep penumbral eclipse on March 14, 2006. They used a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT camera mounted on a fixed tripod to take photos of the moon at regular intervals. After the event, Imelda and Edwin took the individual photos and assembled them into this eclipse sequence in Adobe Photoshop.
A cropped version of the penumbral eclipse of 2006 over Motif No. 1. The start and end of penumbral eclipses are challenging to observe — the subtle but distinct darkening on the edge of the lunar disk usually doesn’t become apparent until roughly 2/3 of the disk is immersed in the penumbra. During the eclipse on Wednesday, the northern half of the moon will exhibit this slight dusky shading, provided the weather is clear.
This view of the total lunar eclipse on the morning of August 28, 2007 was taken by Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre from Horn Pond in Massachusetts. It shows the moon setting in the western sky with the eclipse still in progress, just as the sun was rising in the east. The exposure times for a total lunar eclipse vary widely, from a fraction of a second during the partial phases to one second or more during totality. For the penumbral eclipse, the exposures will have to be short in order not to overexpose the moon’s disk. The penumbral shading doesn’t have any significant effect on the overall brightness of the full moon.
When taking wide-angle shots of the eclipsed moon, it would be nice to add some interesting structure or landmarks to the foreground. This view of the super-sized full moon rising above some residential houses along Horn Pond in Massachusetts was captured by Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre right after sunset on May 5, 2012 using a 400-millimeter telephoto lens and Canon EOS 7D digital SLR camera.
When the moon is low enough in the sky, you can record its multiple reflections, called “glitter path,” on the surface of a body of water. Glitter paths can be produced by any bright sources of light, including the Sun, Venus, Jupiter, lightning and street lights.