Woody Packard

Words + Pictures

My Eclipse

This is a time-shortened version of the total eclipse of the moon that happened on February 20, 2008. These are single frames captured every six seconds for the four hour duration of the event. As with every other time I have attempted this, things go wrong, but there is nothing to do except to do your best and stay with it until the end. I have had dew accumulate on lenses, condensation stick sheet film to holders, and carefully placed tripods kicked while stumbling around in the dark.

This time it is 12°F outside, I am stringing video camera to laptop, keeping both charged with wiring that comes from the window of my car. At this magnification, the camera has to be repositioned every ten or so minutes. The tripod is not happy about pointing straight up in the air, the grease in the head is stiff. Three and a half hours into the eclipse the computer starts throwing errors with each exposure, requiring me to click OK every six seconds. There is no opportunity to figure out why this is happening and nobody is there with me to help. As attempts to override auto exposure and focus are managed through thick winter gloves, each bump and fumble is magnified by the 12x power of the zoom lens. Clearly something is being discovered here, but just as clearly it has little to do with astronomy.