Lunar Eclipse at Sprague Lake (April 15)

We were keen to see the relatively rare total lunar eclipse aka "Blood Moon" on April 15, so after our Bluebird Morning outing, we tried to nap so we could stay up late to catch the peak of the eclipse at around 1:45am MT.

We were fortunate to have clear skies for the night.

We had planned to both go back to Sprague Lake, but the wind had picked up a lot and Susan decided to stay home and watch the eclipse from our house/deck, and I went on to Sprague Lake at about midnight. I found only one other car in the parking lot.

I gathered my gear bag and tripod and began the 5-10 min walk to the fishing pier on Sprague Lake. The full moon was so bright I didn't even need a flashlight to see the snow-packed trail.

The first thing I did was take a wide angle shot of the mountains to the west.

Pre-eclipse moonlit scene (about 12:20am)

For reference, here's a daytime shot of this same scene.

Daytime (just before 10am) shot looking west from the fishing pier at Sprague Lake

Then I switched to telephoto lens. I wanted as much "reach" as possible, and after the first few shots I decided to add the 1.4X tele-converter (TC) to my 100-400mm lens. Unfortunately, this combination resulted in a maximum aperture of f/8.0, requiring a noisier high ISO setting, plus the TC makes the image sharpness pretty soft.

So overall, I wasn't that pleased with my results, but it was a lot of fun. I learned a few things, and I'll practice until I get better. My goal next time is to get something like this, shot by my friend Pat. :-)

But here are a few shots of the progress of the eclipse.


1:03am -- the star to the right is Spica

1:26 am

1:45am at the peak of the eclipse

As the eclipse progressed, I was noticing how much darker everything was compared to when I arrived. Many more stars were visible, plus the light on the snow was less blue and more reddish.

So I took a wide-angle "after" picture to go with the "before" picture, above.

View to the west just after the peak of the eclipse, at 1:53am

And I made a few exposures of the night sky in different directions.

2:06am, looking mostly east, towards the lights of Estes Park, Longmont and Boulder

Looking mostly north at 2:07am, now dark enough to see some of the Milky Way

And here's a wide-angle shot looking west, with the "Blood Moon" at the upper left.

Looking west at 2:12am; moon is bright spot at upper left

I'd been outside standing around in the cold and wind for over two hours, so I decided to head home rather than stay and watch the "other side" of the eclipse. It was now dark enough that I used a flashlight and walked back to the car in the empty parking lot.

When I got home I learned that Susan had a very good experience watching from our home. And she stayed warm, too! :-)

There will be another total lunar eclipse on October 8th, so maybe we'll watch that one too!

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