Watching Lunar Eclipses
Some of the most easy-to-watch astronomical events are lunar eclipses. You only need clear skies and a pair of eyes to see them.
Lunar eclipses happen on a night when there's a full Moon, while the Earth, Sun and Moon are arranged in a straight line in space. If you are on the night-side of the Earth at the time of the eclipse, you can see it.
Little effort is required to view a lunar eclipse, be it a penumbral, partial or total eclipse of the Moon. The only thing required is clothes to keep you warm at night, a clear view of the Moon and the Sky, and a chair to keep you comfortable while you watch the eclipse.
Although you do not need any special equipment for viewing a lunar eclipse, it is recommended by experienced photographers and astronomers that having some equipment make your experience of the lunar eclipse much better. These include:
- Binoculars: Binoculars come in handy if you want to see the features of the Moon during the eclipse. With the aid of binoculars, it's easy to see how the color of the Moon changes as the Earth's shadow goes above it. According to some astronomers, when you look at the Moon with binoculars from the start till the end of of it, you'll see a turquoise or blue band on the Moon.
- A securely supported telescope on a sturdy mounting. If you'd like to see the features of the Moon in finer detail, a telescope is what you need. Your DSLR camera can also be connected to the telescope to get a bigger photo of the eclipsed Moon.
- There is no special equipment needed to take pictures of a lunar eclipse. A basic camera or even a cell phone camera is able to do that. Veteran photographers advise that you should connect your camera to a telescope or use a telephoto lens if you want to take high quality pictures of the eclipse.
- Tripods; used to keep cameras or binoculars steady.
- Extra batteries; Ensure that all batteries, tape recorders, flashlights, or video cameras are charged fully on the day of the eclipse.
- Cables; used only for long exposures or long focal-length shots.
- Video cameras; if you want to relieve the experience later on DVD.
- Flashlights; to help you find your way in the dark.
- A stopwatch or watch to keep record of time.