Tips and Links for Photographing Lunar Eclipses


Outside the Earth's Shadow

When the moon is outside the earth's shadow, photography is straightforward - it's just a normal daylit scene. "The rule of 16" is a good thing to memorize for daylight photography... at f/16, your exposure time in seconds should be 1/ASA. Now, the moon is unusually dark, so I'd substitute f/11 or even f/8 if it's low in the sky. For example, if you are shooting ASA 200 film, the rule says to shoot at 1/200 of a second. However, you'll want to use a telescope or large telephoto lens if you want the moon (only 1/2 degree across) to anything except a big dot. You of course can shoot with a regular camera lens or small telephoto, but then your emphasis will be on getting the foreground. The eclipse of Oct 27, 2004 will be ideal for this kind of photography, since we'll have fading twilight in the west and a low moon over the eastern horizon. The deeper the moon goes into the penumbra, the less sunlight will be falling on the moon, even if your eye/brain compensate to give you the impression nothing's changed. This fading happens fairly quickly, so I'd not use the "rule of 16" except at the beginning of the umbral phase.

Here's Fred Espanak's table of exposures for Lunar eclipses