The next full Moon on January 20th, will feature a sunset total lunar eclipse visible across the islands. The eclipsed Moon will rise just as the Sun sets on the opposite horizon.
The eclipse will be just underway as the Moon rises on the island of Hawaii, with the Moon rising at almost exactly 18:00HST and the total phase of the eclipse starting 41 minutes later. Maximum will occur at 19:12HST with the Moon 14° above the horizon.
Many references state that the eclipse will occur on January 21st, and it will, in time zones further east than us here in Hawaii. We are ten hours behind UT, thus it will be the evening of the 20th when the eclipse occurs in the islands.
An easy to view evening eclipse, no reason not to get out and view this one, no need for an alarm clock!
By the time this is posted, by the time you read this, the eclipse will be long over. You will have been flooded by images and descriptions of this event from thousands of sources. However, this blog is a personal diary, I will put down my thoughts and memories before they grow dim, post my photos, and preserve the experience for myself.
Our plan was simple, camp out well ahead of time in a site that had been carefully selected and scouted. Jody and Larry camped along side this little pretty meadow earlier in the summer, noting that it would serve quite well. They also arrived first, five days before the eclipse, and minutes ahead of others that sought this same place.
The plan worked, and worked well. In the days leading up to the eclipse dozens of vehicles came past, each looking with envy at those who had arrived early to claim the best spots. The stream of vehicles continued late into Sunday eve, no matter, this forest offers room for all.
Ahead of our aircraft a crescent Moon is rising. Outside the window it is completely dark, a blackness broken only by the strobing anticollision lights across the wing and the rising Moon. Seattle is still hours away as we cross the Pacific, there are no city lights below to break the darkness.
The waning crescent phase is another reminder that the total solar eclipse I have been anticipating is very near, only a few days now. Not that I really need a reminder, the entire reason I am on this flight is to meet the Moon once more, to catch the moment when it blots out the Sun.
Somewhere below me in the cargo hold is the telescope mount, assembled from restored and hand made parts. In the luggage bin overhead is the telescope, the little refractor that is a prized posession. Through it I have watched and photographed eagles and whales, volcanic eruptions, and distant galaxies. At my feet is a pack with a few cameras in it, only five.
For over a decade I have awaited the coming of this event. A day that once seemed so remote draws swiftly near as a rising crescent Moon portends.
With a little short of two minutes of totality I need to go into this with a plan. I do want a few photos, but I also want to experience the eclipse. How do I balance that?
The important bit here is that I am going to give myself time to simply enjoy the eclipse and not spend the whole time futzing with the camera gear. When totality begins I will simply sit back and watch. To that end I have thought through a shot plan that may just accomplish this balance.
The plan calls for three cameras… A single camera on a solar telescope, this will be primarily run on automatic with an intervalometer. I just need to check focus and centering of the solar image periodically during the long partial phases. I will use part of totality to attend to this camera and take a deep corona photo.