50 Year Old Edmund 3" Telescope, iPhone 4, & Total Lunar Eclipse
Posted: 10 December 2011
For the 10 December 2011 Total Lunar Eclipse, I decided to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my Edmund Scientific 3" Newtonian Reflector Telescope, which I received as a Christmas gift from my mother in 1961. This photo was taken Easter 1962:
I had used the 3" telescope to photograph the 18 December 1964 Total Lunar Eclipse with a small box camera and Tri-X film, as reported by the Seymour, Indiana (my hometown) newspaper on the front page:
And in a case of "old meets new", for 10 December 2011 Total Lunar Eclipse, I used the Edmund Scientific 3" telescope with my Apple iPhone 4 as the camera. I had last used the iPhone on the Edmund 3" for lunar imaging about a year ago. Then, I had to handhold the iPhone over the eyepiece. This time I used the Magnilux MX-1 iPhone Afocal Adapter, as it came with a 0.965" eyepiece clamp.
Since the moon would be setting during mid-eclipse, I decided to not open the SkyShed POD observatory. Instead, I set up the Edmund Scientific 3" telescope on the front walkway to the house and did my observing and imaging from there, as it had a clear view to the western horizon where the moon would set.
I began setting up at 0400 MST, 49°F. The sky was mostly covered with high thin clouds and there was a strong breeze blowing. Here is the Edmund Scientific 3" Newtonian Reflector Telescope set up:
And this photo shows the iPhone 4 and its "remote shutter release" (standard iPhone earbuds):
At 0425 MST, I took this photograph of the Full Moon with a Nikon D7000 DSLR, f/5.6, 1/1600sec, 300mm, ISO 200:
This photo was taken with the iPhone 4 on the 3" telescope using the iOS Camera app, afocal at 40X, and, as with all the iPhone images here, has been slightly cropped:
At 0515 MST, some penumbral darkening was beginning to be evident to the naked eye. However, the moon was now moving into some denser clouds. The partial phase began at 0545 MST and this photo was captured by the iPhone on the 3" telescope:
At 0600 MST, the moon had moved into a hole in the clouds and I took this iPhone photo:
But at 0615 MST, the moon was back into some thin clouds. The iOS Camera app was beginning to struggle with the extreme variations in brightness:
The moon was back in the clear at 0630 MST but the sky was beginning to brighten from morning twilight. The Camera app continued to struggle:
By 0637 MST, the Earth's shadow was a very dark orangle color to the naked eye. At 0645 MST, the sky continued to brighten, 30 minutes before sunrise. Total eclipse was now 20 minutes away, as seen in this iPhone photo:
At 0655 MST, I used the D7000 DSLR to capture this image the eclipsed moon, low in the western sky. The orange shadow is just visible.
At 0700 MST, just 5 minutes from the start of the Total Eclipse, only a small sliver of the moon was still visible against the bright sky. This is the final iPhone image captured on the Edmund 3" Telescope:
At 0702 MST, the moon was no longer visible to the naked eye due to the eclipse and the moon's low altitude in the western sky. However, it was faintly visible in the D7000 viewfinder. This D7000 DSLR photo, f/5.6, 1/20sec, 300mm, ISO 800, taken at 0703 MST, just barely shows the eclipsed moon:
0705 MST: start of the Total Eclipse phase and the moon was gone. I ended the session at 0710 MST, 47°F.
It was fun to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my Edmund Scientific 3" Newtonian Reflector Telescope by using it to photograph a Total Lunar Eclipse. The telescope may be old and well-traveled over the past 50 years, but it is still performing like new. Thanks Edmund Scientific! And many thanks Mom!
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