Notes From The Field - Some Zoom, Some Eclipse

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Apollo XX
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Notes From The Field - Some Zoom, Some Eclipse

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May 15th, 2022 – Evening Into Night;

Sunday evening was the first occasion of Steve LaFlamme’s new Cosmic Coffehouse Zoom meetings, which he has billed as a casual gathering of astronomy enthusiasts where they can come together to discuss anything and everything about the hobby in an informal and relaxed setting. I thought the inaugural event came off very well. There were eight to ten of us present, and Steve had a few topics prepared to get the ball rolling. We had members from the Sky Scrapers in RI, the Astronomical Society of Southern New England in Rehoboth, and the South Shore Astronomical Society as well. Interestingly, the Zoom format which has become very popular in response to the pandemic enabled participation from a Sky Scrapers member who currently lives in Florida, and it was fun discussing what groups he is active with down there. We went round the table introducing ourselves, discussed several light topics, shared what we are currently reading with each other, and basically just had fun jabbering for a while about astronomy. It seems like it’s off to a good start!

There had been some discussion amongst the troops about whether or not to try and gather for viewing the total eclipse of the Moon, but ultimately we all decided to go it alone due to the sketchiness of the forecast and the late hours of the event on a Sunday night. I don’t think any of us had any high hopes for being able to view the event, but for those of us that made the effort the sky seemed to give us at least somewhat of a break.

When I stepped out into the driveway at around 10:30 P.M. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Moon glowing through some thin haze in the sky and it was clear that the partial phases had just begun. Eyeballing the sky to the west, I decided it looked good enough to warrant the effort to set up a camera and capture what I could. I got more than I anticipated I would.

My setup was a Nikon DSLR plugged in at prime focus on a Stellavue SV80ED refractor, which I just mounted on an AstroTech Voyager manual Alt/Az mount. I figured I’d be able to use fast enough shutter speeds to counter any rotation issues cropping up from the un-driven mount.

Eclipse Phases wGraphic.png
Eclipse Phases wGraphic.png (735.98 KiB) Viewed 202 times
The approach worked. Ultimately I got to see and image from the beginning of the partial phases to a short while into totality. Beyond that the clouds rolled in thick and fast with just the occasional glimpse of the event peeking through now and again. I don’t know if it was just me, but I thought that this total lunar eclipse was a particularly dark one. I had seen somewhere online where it had been mentioned that a volcano in Tonga might have contributed to a high aerosol concentration in the atmosphere, so that could have explained it. Anyway, it was a good one while it lasted. Onward and upward!

Keep Looking Up!

Mike McCabe
"The purpose of life is the investigation of the Sun, the Moon, and the heavens." - Anaxagoras
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AstroGeek
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Re: Notes From The Field - Some Zoom, Some Eclipse

Unread post by AstroGeek »

Fantastic work, Mike
Nice compilation of the various stages.
At the start of totality at 11:29pm, I set the camera to take an exposure every three minutes.
My goal was to produce an animation of how the reds and oranges change throughout totality.
Unfortunately, this project was cut short by incoming clouds.
Calendar is circled for March 14, 2025.

And, yes, I thought the kick-off edition of the Cosmic Coffeehouse was fun!!
Now that the participants have seen the format, perhaps there will be many more exciting topics next month.

Keep Looking UP (unless you're at the dog park)
Steve L
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Pete
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Re: Notes From The Field - Some Zoom, Some Eclipse

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As the man said, fantastic work Mike.
Pete P.
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