Portugal – blood moon – photos

Here are some of the photos of the recent blood moon. These were all taken in Portugal.

Please bear in mind that mine were all captured on an inexpensive point-and-shoot digital camera. I have included a couple by more professional photographers. And I’ll show you the kit you need to get better quality pictures than the ones I managed.

This first one is with my little point-and-shoot camera, taken here in Portelas. The blurry lights along the bottom are the village on the hill opposite us

The bright spot below and to the right of the Moon is Mars. Mars is currently at its closest approach to Earth and is easily visible to the naked eye.

And now let’s swap to a photographer who has better kit than me. This one was taken in Lisbon. Apparently, the Teatro Romano opened its doors to allow the sightseers to get a good view of the eclipse. NB The graphic of the Teatro Romano is computer generated, not what it looks like today.

And below is Elvas in Portugal, near Badajoz in Spain.

In the next photo, the eclipse was just beginning to end. If you look closely at the bottom, left-hand corner of the Moon, it has a very slight tinge of silver on it.

In the last of my personal pictures, a half-decent one of the Moon emerging as the eclipse nears its end.

To round off the photos, here is one taken in Singapore for the event. Note the kit used here.

What am I missing to take high-quality night sky events? I appear to be missing an SLR camera, an enormous telephoto lens, and a tripod. I don’t think my interest in astronomy stretches much beyond a tripod, to cut down on camera shake, but we’ll see.


Portugal – Blood Moon

There will be a blood moon on Friday, 27 July 2018.

A blood moon is simply a total eclipse of the Moon by the Earth. Sunlight is filtered by the Earth’s atmosphere, leaving only a small amount of red light left to illuminate the moon. The result is a moon the colour of blood.

This is the lunar eclipse with the longest duration until the year 2100.

Weather permitting, what you actually get to see depends on how far N/S and E/W you are.

Let me start with London, which is basically 0°N and 0°E. The moon is only just rising above the horizon at this time of the month, so viewing the blood moon will be problematic. You need to get an unblocked view to the south-east. If you can do that, you should be able to see the blood moon from 9.21pm to 10.13pm. The further north of London you are, the less likely it becomes that you will be able to see this particular blood moon.

So check what will be available in your location.

It helps if you are east of London, but Portugal is west of London. That means a big chunk of this longest blood moon will already be over before moonrise on Friday. The Moon will already be in total eclipse when it does rise above the horizon. However as Portugal is south of London, the Moon will rise higher in sky, and be easier to see.

The Moon will already be in total eclipse when it rises here, but the mainland of Portugal will experience around 50 minutes of blood moon.

Scientists say the Moon will rise in the east. Personally, I am going to check tonight exactly where it appears to emerge in Portelas, so I know exactly where it rises on my personal horizon.

The times for moonrise are 8.38pm in Faro, 8.47pm in Lisbon and 8.51pm in Porto. The Moon will be in the centre of its eclipse at 9.22pm.

I have tried to photograph a blood moon once before, and the results were dire. I will have another try, but my small point-and-shoot camera is unlikely to give much better results. One of the challenges is that when the Moon is blood red it shines much less brightly than a standard silver moon. So even if I can get a decent photo on my test run tonight, there is no guarantee I can capture a good photo of a blood moon

Portelas v Venus

This is a photo of our garden in Portelas, taken around dawn a few days ago.

Our land backs onto acres of farmland, then in in the distance on the hills sits a set of uninspiring blocks of flats. They are the orange blobby things on the horizon. The N125 from Lagos to Odiáxere runs just the other side of those hills.

The orange illuminating the flats comes from street lights. We also have orange street lights, but they are at the front of the house. Here, at the rear, we have kilometres of zero street lights before those flats. Not quite perfect darkness, but the best I have seen in my life.

And that is why I could use my little camera to take a photo of Venus, which is is the tiny white blob in the middle of the picture.

The larger orange layer is due to the fact that the sun was emerging from the horizon to our east. Probably at this time of year it is east-south-east, or similar. But as I am not an astronomer, I will not quibble.

Indeed, I had to look up on the Internet that the brightest object in the sky, after the Sun and Moon, was Venus. Otherwise I was just looking at a bright white blob. Now I know the blob as Venus.

I won’t be doing a great deal of astronomy. I don’t have the kit for it, and unfortunately I don’t have the eyes any more. But as this better than average view is now available, I might as well get some use out of it.