How To See The Blood Moon This Weekend [Updated]

If you look at the sky this weekend, you'll see a total lunar eclipse, a "Blood Moon", where the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon. Simple.

So of course, I want y'all to get your cameras out. And we have some tips for you.

Steven Morris is an Adelaide-based astro-photographer, hosting workshops around Australia - including hosting Nikon Schools' Astrophotography workshops in Adelaide, Melbourne and Wentworth Falls.

here's his best hints at how to get the best images from a Blood Moon.

  • Plan your shot Do you want to shoot a transition of the moon over a landscape or do you want to shoot the moon at a long focal length?
  • You will want your camera in manual mode, aperture around F/8. Set your shutter speed and don’t adjust it throughout the night, you want to achieve a nice clean sharp image.
  • Shutter speed of around 1/250th is a good start point. As the moon gets darker the only thing you want to adjust to get a nice exposure is your ISO.
  • Remember, a quick exposure to freeze the moon and F/8 as it’s usually a sweet spot for most lenses in sharpness.
  • If you can’t get your autofocus to work in the low light conditions, then switch your lens or camera body to manual and use the live view screen to obtain focus.
  • You can also use the live view screen to zoom in, view the moon and correctly expose for it when using longer focal length lenses of 200mm +
  • If you have a shutter release cable, use it. If not then use the timer function on your camera to reduce vibration in your image.
  • Make sure your using your tripod for added stability.
  • For longer focal length lenses get creative, maybe try and frame the moon rising above a structure or tree. It really compress the foreground to background.

Tag @gizmodoAU in your pics on social media, and we'll share them next week. But for now, here's some more details on what we'll see.

The Moon appear to darken and gradually turn red as it moves into Earth's shadow in the early hours of Saturday morning.

"The red colour comes from light that skims through the Earth's atmosphere and goes off into space," says ANU astronomer Dr Brad Tucker from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

"You will see the sunrise and sunset of the Earth lighting up the surface of the Moon – over 350,000 km away. If you were on the Moon, you would see a total solar eclipse as the Earth would be blocking the Sun."

Lunar eclipses always occur when it is a Full Moon.

"The Moon is not always in perfect alignment with the Sun and the Earth, so that is why we do not get a lunar eclipse every lunar cycle," Dr Tucker said.

"You can enjoy lunar eclipses safely with your eyes, unlike a solar eclipse where eye protection must be worn."

For people on Australia's east coast, the lunar eclipse will begin at about 3.15am on Saturday 28 July 2018 (AEST), and it'll take about 2 hours to see the total eclipse when the moon will turn red.

Blood Moons have been chronicled long before the advent of camera phones and telescopic lenses.

This Thai manuscript dates back to the time of King Rama IV, also known as King Mongkut of Siam, who reigned from 1851 to 1868. The British Library tells us more:

Rama IV was a passionate astronomer and astrologer, who actually died after catching malaria during an excursion to southern Thailand to watch a total solar eclipse that he had accurately predicted. In 2003, a newly discovered asteroid, 151834 Mongkut, was named in honour of King Rama IV and his contributions to astronomy.

In our manuscript, two types of 'red moons' are illustrated at the top of folio 25, together with a warning that following the occurrence of such a moon three bad things might happen: the price of rice may increase, robberies may take place, and there is even the prospect of war! The entire population, including governors and Brahmins (learned men) could suffer great hardship.

Interesting how the blood moon is almost universally interpreted as an omen of bad things to come. Sorry to put a downer on your Monday.

You can check out the entire manuscript here.

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