Time lapsed: the Moon plunges into shadow

By Phil Plait | July 14, 2011 12:46 pm

I’ve seen a lot of lunar eclipses, and they are usually really lovely (as the pictures I’ve been posting attest to), but they’re very slow, lasting for hours. It’s fun to look for a minute, go do something else for a few, then look again and see how the lighting on the Moon has changed. You don’t really get a sense of motion, just change over time.

But what if you could smoothly speed it up? What would it look like then?


This time lapse video was taken by Jean-Luc Dauvergne in Tajikstan (as an aside, the capitol city of Dushanbe is my hometown Boulder’s sister city). It spans 5 hours, and you can see just how the very bright full Moon plunges into darkness as it enters the shadow of the Earth.

As I pointed out in an earlier post, the Moon was near the galactic center in the sky, so you can see the Milky Way hanging dramatically next to the red Moon, festooned with various star-forming gas clouds as indicated in the video.

This is a stunning view of the eclipse like I’ve never seen before. The reflection on the lake is simply wonderful as well. As more people are taking advantage of digital photography with pan-and-scan camera mounts, I expect we’ll be seeing more clever sequences like this.

Tip o’ the lens cap to APOD and Thomas Buckfelder.

Related posts:

Incredible lunar eclipse floats near the Lagoon
In the shadow of the Earth
When the Earth takes a bite out of the Sun
Time lapse video: from North Carolina to the galactic center

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff

Comments (16)

Links to this Post

  1. Lunar Eclipse, sped up « | July 14, 2011
  2. El eclipse lunar visto desde Tayikistán « [Px] | July 14, 2011
  1. Grand Lunar

    Words cannot do justice for such a wonderful view!

  2. Jim

    Site blocked by NASA-GRC web filter.

  3. humble historian

    Sorry, Phil; can’t help myself. That should be ‘capital,’ not ‘capitol.’ Grading too many papers lately . . .

  4. Jon Hanford

    I noticed he also has some equally outstanding videos of the skies over Morocco, Iceland and the well-known French observatory Pic du Midi(!) on his Vimeo page. Interesting to see the skies (Summer & Winter) over the French Alps. Thanks for posting this Phil.

  5. Nice. Danged frakkin’ nice!
    Too bad he couldn’t ramp up & down the exposure more smoothly… He changed it abruptly.
    An EQ mount, polar aligned and tracking at the lunar rate, with the camera tight on the Moon would be awesome as halibut!
    Maybe next time I’ll do that myself!

  6. Dark Jaguar

    Why is the moon so small? I thought it was the sun at the start, and a bright star when night came along, or was it night the entire time? It’s hard to figure out the details with the exposure and the zoom.

  7. DrFlimmer

    I especially like the part about 44sec in; when the shot is taken as a close-up:
    You can see the movement of the moon with respect to the milky way in the background. That’s astonishing!

    @ #7 Dark Jaguar

    This are shots taken over several seconds, so in the beginning and also in the end the moon is just too bright and floods the camera with light. So, yes, it was night the entire time.
    The moon is so small, because you see a shot of almost the half of the sky. The moon is only half a degree across, so in such a large perspective it is small, indeed. That it appears huge over the horizon for your eye is just an effect in your brain fooling you.

  8. Crux Australis

    Like magic. Only real.

  9. Autumn

    That’s just really cool.

    I have nothing more to say.

  10. Gorgeous time lapse I love it! :-)

    Those reflections in the lake and the shifting lighting and everything, just wow – the equipment set up shot right at the very end is a nice touch too. Superb. :-)

    [Super-fussy pedantic nit-picker on.]

    as an aside, the capitol city of Dushanbe is my hometown Boulder’s sister city

    Um, just to clarify but Dushanbe *is* the capital city! Don’t you mean the capital of *Tajikstan* is Dushanbe which is Boulder’s sister city? Sorry, couldn’t resist pointing that one out. 😉

    (My english teacher was so strict she took marks off for having a full stop upside down! 😉 )

    [/Super-fussy pedantic nit-picker off.]

  11. @ ^ After posting that, of course, I discover just a second too late that I’ve misspelt Tajikistan there. Arrgh! 😮

    Mea culpa. :-(

    There’s a specific internet term law for that effect, right? 😉

  12. Jon Hanford

    “^ After posting that, of course, I discover just a second too late that I’ve misspelt Tajikistan there. Arrgh!” – MTU

    Don’t feel too bad MTU, in my post above I implied that the Pic du Midi observatory was in the French Alps, when in reality it’s in the French Pyrenees!: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pic_du_Midi_de_Bigorre

  13. mechbill2112

    On a recent trip to Boulder, I stopped by the Dushanbe Tea House that was beautifully hand-crafted, shipped (in crates), and re-assembled. Good food too.

  14. I was also at the Dushanbe Tea House during the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s conference in 2010. What a lovely place, and great teas (get the Dragon Well). It’s very interesting to see this time-lapse video that makes the connection between the skies of Boulder and Dushanbe. Thank you.


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