Lunar Eclipse in Toronto

Observing the sky from Toronto is usually a mug’s game because of all the light pollution — made worse when the neighbours have bright spotlights in their back yards — but I have seen meteors successfully from a park, and I actually saw several stars early this morning when I got up to hunt for the moon. Last night, as it has been for three nights now, the full moon shone brighter than a giant searchlight in the sky, so I figured it would be easy for me to find early this morning. Nope. Toronto’s trees in August are massively leafed out and the eclipsing moon was low in the western sky and dropping fast.

Astronomers like a lunar eclipse to occur in the blackest part of the night, around 1 or 2 o’clock to 4 o’clock in the morning. Too early for me. I much preferred it as it was in Toronto time, just before the dawn. I got up around 5:15 am, staggered around a bit as I woke up, found the moon, set up the camera, and began shooting, moving the camera after almost every shot because the moon was plunging so fast down the sky and behind the trees I almost couldn’t keep up. I only hoped the street would remain empty of cars. Not once while I was shooting the moon did I long for my bed. Now if it had been 2:00 am….

I thought the lack of telephoto length would be my biggest impediment to a good shot, but it was actually the speed of the moon sinking in the Toronto sky — it was moving so fast, I could actually see the beginning and end of its 30-second trajectory in some of my shots. Next year, the eclipse will be at the perfect time for astronomers in Toronto on February 21, 2008. Make a date to bundle up for a night out with the stars and moon and to go without sleep!

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