Total Lunar Eclipse of May 26, 2021
Gregory Gross

Total Lunar Eclipse of May 26, 2021

Between 1:45 and 5:00 AM on May 26, 2021, I saw a stunning total lunar eclipse. The experience will definitely stick with me for a long time.

Here are some highlights from the numerous pictures I took with my Canon EOS M200 camera attached to my 1962 Questar #2-14xx. I shot perspective images using a point-and-shoot camera on a tripod.

Weather forecasts predicted that a patch of high-level cloud cover would settle in during the event. Although I indeed saw a layer of hazy clouds move in, it was never bad enough to obscure the Moon fully. I took the opportunity to take lemons and made lemonade by capturing some nice images of moonlight illuminating the clouds.

Penumbral Eclipse Begins, 1:47 AM

Given its subtle nature, the penumbral phase of a lunar eclipse is perhaps best observed using a camera.

The Moon at the beginning of the penumbral phase of the eclipse, 1:47 AM.
Questar #2-14xx aimed at the Moon, 1:57 AM.
The Earth’s penumbra starts to become barely noticable on the lower left, 2:12 AM.
The light cloud cover interacted with the moonlight to produce a beautiful ring around the Moon, 2:15 AM.
The Earth’s penumbral shadow deepens, 2:38 AM.

Umbral Eclipse Begins, 2:44 AM

During the 87 minutes of the umbral phase of the eclipse, one notices subtle changes that soon turn dramatic. As the Moon becomes obscured by the Earth’s umbra, the steady reduction in illumination allows the stars in the sky to pop into view. Towards the end of the umbral phase, all the familiar summertime constellations emerged. The Milky Way eventually appeared overhead. The transition was breathtaking.

The Earth’s umbra begins to move into the Moon, 2:44 AM.
The Earth’s umbra deepens, 3:01 AM.
The Earth’s umbra deepens still further, 3:17 AM.
About halfway between the beginning of the umbral and total phases of the eclipse, 3:26 AM.
The Earth’s umbra deepens more, 3:37 AM.
My camera begins to pick up the blood red color of the Moon, 3:53 AM.
Approaching totality, 4:02 AM.

Total Eclipse Begins, 4:11 AM

At this stage, the Moon became as dark as it would be over the course of the eclipse. Durnig this particular event, the Moon was approaching the horizon during totality.

Maximum totality, 4:18 AM.

Total Eclipse Ends, 4:25 AM

As the total phase of the eclipse ended, the glow of twilight appeared in the east. The Moon was still visible above the southwestern horizon, and I was able to observe the event as it wound down.

Twilight appears not long after the end of totality with Pegasus rising in the east, 4:30 AM.
Sinking into the southwest horizon behind the trees in the distance, the Moon exits the Earth’s umbral shadow, 4:49 AM.