My lunar eclipse experience

As we wait for the total lunar eclipse on Jan 31st, 2018, let me recall my earlier eclipse experience on 10 Dec 2011. It was a wonderful lunar eclipse since the whole eclipse was visible from India. I went out of the city to a village near Tumkur which has very clear skies and no light pollution.

As the sun set in the western sky, the moon rose in the eastern sky. We (the earth) were exactly in between the sun and the moon. I had a 1000mm focal length telescope with me to photograph the eclipse. I was using my old Canon 450D camera. As the moon rose, one portion of the moon started to get blackened. We were all excited.

As the eclipse progressed, the moon was getting covered in earth’s shadow. After about 60% of the eclipse, we started seeing the dim red glow of the moon (which is due to refraction of light in earth’s atmosphere).

After about 90 minutes, the moon was completely covered. Usually on a full moon day, you don’t see many stars. But on this occasion, the moon had become a lot fainter glowing with faint brown-red color and we could see many stars in the sky.

The color and brightness of the moon depends on the dust in the earth’s atmosphere and can vary drastically between eclipses.

We enjoyed this phase of the eclipse using binoculars and telescopes. My camera was still clicking photos. By this time, everyone was hungry and we feasted on Bisi Bele Bath and curd rice. This was also to bust the myth that eating food during an eclipse causes indigestion.

After an hour of totality, the earth’s shadow started moving out of the moon. After an hour and half, the full moon was back again. It was so bright, I wondered if it was the same moon we saw all night.


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