Last update: February 16th, 2000

Total Lunar Eclipse in Germany, January 21st, 2000

The total lunar eclipse could be observed in almost all Europe, if the skies were clear. This, however, proved to be a very problematic condition that night. Actually, all the day and half the night before the eclipse it was raining cats and dogs in the Duesseldorf area and all over Germany. The chance of a clear sky in the early morning hours during the eclipse from 4:30 to 7:00 was extrelemy low, may be 10%. After discussion with the colleagues it became clear that there would be no real chance to wake up anybody at that time with that little chance of a useful observation. Therefore the director of the FIBUS institute himself took the heavy burden and set his clock to 4:00 in the morning. Yawning he got up at that time and couldn't believe his eyes: The sky was clearing up and very small holes of sky were already visible. Within a few minutes the camera was set up and the big event could start. During total eclipse the sky was almost completely clear and the image of the dark orange moon was surprising and exciting. Too bad that before the end of the eclipse the clouds appeared again and the reappearing of the moon could not be observed. Anyway, lots of interesting pictures were taken.

As the camera equipment of the FIBUS institute is not designed for eclipse observation, i.e. there are no very long lenses, a 135mm lens was used with two (!) 2x converters, giving a 540 mm tele-lens. Degradation was extremely bad by this technique. Some tests showed that the resulting lens resolution was less than 1000 lines. Therefore all images are slightly blurred. Another problem was the film sensitivity: Only 100 ASA film was used. Especially during eclipse the light reflected from the moon was that little that the minimum shutter time was 3 seconds. At this shutter time the earth would turn quite a lot and the moon would move quite a bit to make the images even more blurred. Well, next time we'll improve our equipment!

Moon images during partial coverage by the earth shadow. Last image (lower right) for total eclipse and 3 seconds shutter time.

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