Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Modern technology


Image Credit: Melissa Williams

Just 50 years ago, astrophotography was a hobby reserved for the select few. Taking pictures of astronomical objects and events required special film, expensive cameras, and lots of expertise. How things have changed! Digital cameras allow anyone with a tripod to take decent photos of the moon and stars, and other than the cost of the camera, the hobby is cheap! Those with time and money to spare can buy impressive setups that can rival professional astronomers in terms of quality.

The above picture is a series of four photographs of this morning's total lunar eclipse; you can see the moon progressively moving into Earth's shadow. What setup was used to take these pictures? A cell phone camera. We have indeed come a long way.

Although it appears above that the moon completely disappeared, it was still visible, although early reports suggest it was a very dark eclipse. This is partly because the moon went deep into Earth's shadow, and partly because of bad weather in a lot of the Earth that was seeing sunset and sunrise during the eclipse.

If you would like to see more pictures of this morning's eclipse (especially if you were like me and just too tired to roll out of bed), check out Sky & Telescope's Total Lunar Eclipse photo page (as of 11:30am CDT, nothing had been posted yet, but I am sure pictures will be coming).

Here's a beautiful photo and account of this morning's eclipse posted elsewhere on Sky and Telescope by Gary Seronik.

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