Oak tree and lunar eclipse sequence, Mariposa County, Sierra foothills, CA, USA

Oak tree and lunar eclipse sequence, Mariposa County, Sierra foothills, December 2011

Another total lunar eclipse will be visible in western North America this Saturday morning, April 4th. This is the third lunar eclipse in a sequence of four: we had two last year, and there will be another one on September 27th this year. But after that you won’t be able to see another total lunar eclipse in North America until 2018.

This upcoming eclipse will be brief; the total eclipse will last only five minutes! But for photography that’s enough. Here in California the eclipse will be visible in the west-southwest, about 18 degrees above the horizon, just before dawn. Since the moon will be low in the sky, you might be able to photograph it next to an interesting foreground object. You can find more details about this eclipse here.

For precise guidance about the moon’s position in relation to the landscape, I recommend consulting PhotoPills or The Photographer’s Ephemeris. Here’s the timing for the eclipse:

Partial Eclipse Begins:
10:16 UT, 3:16 a.m. PDT

Total Eclipse Begins:
11:58 UT, 4:58 a.m. PDT

Greatest Eclipse:
12:00 UT, 5:00 a.m. PDT

Total Eclipse Ends:
12:03 UT, 5:03 a.m. PDT

Partial Eclipse Ends:
13:45 UT, 6:45 a.m. PDT

So how do you photograph an eclipse? For the eclipse in April of last year I wrote a post for the Borrowlenses blog with detailed descriptions of the whole process, including focusing in the dark, exposure, capturing a sequence, and assembling a sequence.

Good luck! I hope you have clear skies.

— Michael Frye

Related Posts: Lunar Eclipse Over the Trona Pinnacles; Winging It Through the Eclipse

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Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to YosemiteYosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.