Last bit of moon before the full eclipse.
Lunar Eclipse at its peak. (Jupiter in the lower left)
Keck Observatory using a laser for adaptive optics. Moon 85%
International Space Station as it went by at 5:09AM in the NNE
Orion to the left of the moon. Foreground is Subaru, Keck and NASA Infrared Observatories.
A little twilight coming in from the east and moonlight shining on Gemini Observatory. Just to the left of the observatory is the Southern Cross
Sunrise coming, the city of Hilo below. One person on the summit.
A group up at the very summit of Mauna Kea, 13,796 feet.
Moon was so full and bright. I hadn’t noticed in the dark that I parked on a rock. Notice the rear right tire? LOL
Full moon set with summit observatory complex in the foreground. Pu`u Poli`ahu on the left is just getting lit by the sun.
Full moon set above the shadow of MaunaKea. Subaru on the left and Keck I on the right.
Surreal to Sublime – Lunar Eclipse to Full Moon Set
After a lot of deliberation on the best location to see the eclipse I decided on heading up to the summit of the 13,796-foot summit of the dormant volcano Mauna Kea. The peak time for the eclipse was at 4:15 AM, which meant I would need to get up at 2:15AM to get up to the summit in time. I also had to prepare for the viewing conditions at the summit and I knew it would be cold so I put on my ski pants and gathered my gloves, hat and ski jacket.
The hour drive up to the mountain was easy enough and I engaged my four-wheel drive as I went past the already busy Visitor Center and headed up the 5-mile road to the summit. As I past 11,000 feet the temperature dropped to below freezing and reached the summit at around 3:50AM where the temperature was “balmy” Hawaiian 25 degrees Fahrenheit. I knew based on where the moon would be during the eclipse that a better juxtaposition to get some of the telescopes in the foreground would be from the Canada France Hawaii Observatory. There was only one other vehicle there and it was a fellow photographer. He was from the Subaru Observatory and he was doing the same thing I was doing, getting his telescope in the foreground of the eclipse.
By the time I got out of my vehicle the moon only had a tiny sliver of unobstructed surface. I started to feel a little panicky, as I had to get my cameras set up and then pray I was in the right location! One thing is for sure, when taking pictures at almost 14,000 feet your brain doesn’t think clearly. I kept forgetting things; first I forgot my remote shutter release cable, then my gloves, then my other camera etc? After several trips back and forth to my vehicle wear my gear was located I finally got my act together and got both cameras set up and started taking the long exposures.
The view truly was surreal with the lights of Waimea and Hilo below and the stars were just amazing. I could see Orion, the Southern Cross, several shooting stars streaked across the sky and of course the moon was beginning to turn red with a hint of blue, but it was absolutely freezing up there. I made the mistake of repositioning my METAL tripod with bare hands and it ended up being very painful.
Once the moon was in total eclipse I took several close up shots of the moon and I felt quite pleased with the results. I then wanted to get some shots of the Observatories in the foreground and the Keck Observatory had their sodium (reddish) laser pointed up and to the north in the viewing area so I framed the shot to capture the moon within the scene.
After shooting the moon I then recalled that the International Space Station would be coming up at 5:09 AM in the North North Eastern sky so I moved my camera over to the north side of the Canada France Telescope and waited patiently. Then, all of a sudden, the ISS appeared in the sky. I repositioned my camera and then I hit the shutter and as soon as I did that a huge shooting star streaked across the sky!! Too cool!
As the moon reappeared the dawn twilight began to come up and while most viewers headed to the east side of the summit to watch the sunrise which was looking un-dramatic I headed to the west side of the summit and trained my cameras on the full moon set just above the shadow cast by the Mauna Kea. The colors were just so creamy and sublime with a hint of purples and light blues. It was a neat contrast against the red cinder at the summit. There was about 5 minutes of just really neat color and hues and I was totally in the zone! Like all good things, the show came to and end and the moon set below the horizon. Whew! The few of us that stayed to watch the moon set all had big smiles on our faces! 🙂
I hope you enjoy.
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