The Lunar Eclipse and some Coastal Walking – 28 July 2018

I made some plans to view the Lunar Eclipse and try and photograph the eclipsed Moon setting behind the city buildings. I thought about some good venues for this and then used the Photographers Ephemeris App to see which location would be best. Then I would see if I could get there by either bike or public transport early on Saturday morning.

The Moon totally eclipsed

The Sun sets more to the north of west in winter, and because of the tilt of the ecliptic plain the Moon therefore sets more to the south of west. Or in other words, a good summer sunset spot would be good for the setting Moon in winter.

It looked like The Gap Bluff at Watsons Bay could be good. I could get an early morning train to Edgecliff, then a bus to the Gap, getting there a little after 6 am. Would this be OK? I thought it would.

Now it would have been easy to photograph the eclipse from nearer to home, but I have done this plenty of times before (eg see here from earlier in the year). I was after something a little different this time. But I had not thought of things too well. The eclipsed Moon is about 1/1000 of the brightness of the Full Moon (I knew this from previous photo settings – about ten stops difference needed). And a nearly Full Moon is not that bright during daylight hours. So an eclipsed Moon would be very pale in the dawn light close to sunrise. Perhaps too pale to see? I did not think of this till afterwards. I was more concerned at the time by clouds. Overcast conditions were forecast for the day, but I thought the early morning may be clear. When I got up, it was not too cloudy, so I decided to set off on my trip. Also, by catching a slightly earlier train, I may be able to view a passing of the ISS at Edgecliff Station.

I detrained at Edgecliff and walked to the bus interchange. I then moved out of the covered area to see if the Moon was visible from there. It was -and I could see it was nearly fully eclipsed. I quickly set up my tripod and camera and grabbed a few photos. A very bright Mars was also quite close to the Moon. Nice. After 5:30 am, the Moon was totally eclipsed.

Moon – just before totality

The Eclipsed Moon and Mars

I then packed up my gear and went back waiting for the bus. I had forgotten about the ISS. I later looked at my watch to see how loch the bus would be, and realised I had forgotten the ISS. It was past the time of is passing over. I went quickly back to the outside and saw it passing overhead – nice and bright. I would have about 2 minutes to try and get a photo. I had to unpack my camera and then see what I could do. These objects require manual focus – using a star (the Moon was too dull) – and this takes awhile and is essential. The ISS is moving too quickly for this. I then took a few shots of the ISS – but it was much lower in the sky (and hence further away -and so would appear smaller) than I would have liked.

On the bus to The Gap, it was half full – and other passengers where also looking at the eclipse. A lot got off at Neilson Park – and I could see a lot of cameras set up on tripods near the bus-stop.

Eclipsed Moon and the City – from The Gap

At the Gap, there were also a lot of cameras and tripods and their operators. I set up mine and took a few photos. The Moon was just out of the clouds. But looking at my photos showed that I had some overhead wires. So, I climbed up to the higher lookout which offers better views. More cameras and tripods – but not too crowded.

But, by now the Moon had gone. I assumed behind clouds. I had not realised that it would also be much paler since there was more light around from the Sun. It was only 40 minutes until sunrise.

Very pale eclipsed Moon (party obscured by clouds) from Gap Bluff

The Moon later did emerge from the clouds – but you could barely see it. Mars, slightly higher in the sky retained its brightness. compared to the Moon, and was easily visible for much longer.

Later – Mars still visible

I then waited for sunrise – and it was nice to see it appear from the ocean. By this time, any clouds had cleared.

My plan was to make more use of my location – I would walk south along the coastal path and look for birds. After all I did have my telephoto lens with me. This was a nice thing to do. The rising Sun took soon warmed up things – nice for me and also nice for the birds.

On the way, I detoured slightly to visit The Grumpy Baker for breakfast.

A little south of Diamond Bay, I spotted the Nankeen Kestrel pair I had seen on earlier walks – in exactly the same location. I think the house they were sitting on now has a nesting box on the roof. This was a good opportunity to wait to see if I could get the birds in flight. This did take some patience – but I think the wait was worthwhile.

I also saw, what looked like the pair mating. If they were mating – then there are quite quick – less than a minute?

There were also some other birds out –

Further along at Rodney Reserve, I looked without luck for Peregrine Falcons. Then it was a bus back to Bondi Junction and a train home. A nice morning.



This entry was posted in Astrophotography, Birds, Nature, Photography, Sydney and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *