Category Archives: eclipses

Total Lunar Eclipse – Sept 28th 2015

A way overdue gallery post, as I have finally managed to sort and post my images of the September 2015 Total Lunar Eclipse. The weather was excellent in Oxfordshire for this event which started at 01:11UT and finished at 06:22UT.

This eclipse occurred with the moon close to perigee, and appeared very dark to the naked eye. Our daughter (aged 5) even got up in the middle of the night to have a look through Daddy’s telescope at the moon and did this amazing drawing the next morning all by herself!

Abi's Amazing Lunar Eclipse Drawing

My image around maximum eclipse was used on the Oxford Mail website as the header image for the article on the event. The gallery below is a selection of images from all the ones I took – these were all taken using a Nikon D70s through a William Optics 110FLT. Exposures range from fractions of seconds for the partial phases, right up to 10 seconds for the images at maximum, which shows the range of brightness across the whole eclipse. My imaging finished at about 6am when the moon was occulted by the garden fence so I didn’t quite get the last stages of the eclipse (though I got an hour or so back in bed before work)!

Eclipse Calculations using Python

On 20th March there is a deep partial solar eclipse over the  UK which is total over the Faroe Islands and Svalbard. I set about trying to determine the time of maximum eclipse, and percentage eclipsed at a given location.

I used the pyephem module which is a Python implementation of the numerical routines that are behind the excellent Xephem. The module will allow a user to calculate the positions of astronomical objects (eg Sun, Moon, etc) from a given location at a given time. Using the positions of these objects it’s possible to determine the separation of the centres of these objects.

To work out the percentage eclipse at that time, I used the formula on the Wolfram Mathworld page on “Lunes” (author: Weisstein, Eric W). A “Lune” is the “plane figure bounded by two circular arcs of unequal radii, i.e., a crescent.” which exactly describes the visible surface of the sun during an eclipse.

With the area of the lune calculated, it’s trivial to work out the percent eclipse at that time – and by looping over time, it’s possible to get a list of lists to search for a maximum.

The code can be downloaded using this link:

The result I get (using the location of the Science Oxford setup on 20th March – the SBS in Oxford, UK) is as follows:

Max Eclipse occurs at: 2015-03-20  09:30:11 GMT
Max percentage eclipse: 85.86
First contact: 08:24:21 GMT
Last contact: 10:40:04 GMT

All we need now is some decent weather…

The featured image here is an H-Alpha filtered frame taken by me on 3rd Oct 2005 from Denia, Spain, during the early phases of an annular eclipse.

Lunar Eclipse of March 3rd 2007

lunar_eclipse_05_20070303.jpgThe lunar eclipse of the 3rd March 2007 brought clear skies and good conditions across much of the UK, with only some thin high cloud arriving in Oxfordshire towards the end of the eclipse. Maximum eclipse occured at 23:20:56 – ideally timed for the UK.

More recently, on the 21st February, 2008, another lunar eclipse was visible from the UK and Europe early in the morning. However, the weather for this event was not as favourable with cloudy conditions across much of the UK (despite having a long period of clear weather in the preceding week!).

Continue reading Lunar Eclipse of March 3rd 2007

Annular Eclipse of Oct 3rd, 2005

Montage of the annular stages of the eclipse, Oct 3rd, 2005

Using a Takahashi FC-60, a Coronado SolarMax 60 and BF15 and an SBIG ST-2000XM, I imaged the solar eclipse from the balcony on the villa.
Continue reading Annular Eclipse of Oct 3rd, 2005