That was the night of the spaghetti dinner and silent auction at my kids’ school, which Gail and other members of the school council spent weeks organizing. During the evening, I was talking to the father of one of Ryan’s friends, and he mentioned the eclipse that was happening that night. I had no knowledge of this at all, so I was glad he told me. When we got home and I got the boys to bed, I grabbed the camera and tripod and set it up in the kitchen. We also have a little trigger thing that attaches to the camera so you can take a picture without touching the camera itself — I figured this was a good idea since I turned the flash off, so the exposure time might be longer, and if I was holding the camera it would be shaky. I centered the camera on the moon, zoomed in as far as I could (200mm lens), and took a couple. With the tripod, the camera already centered on the moon, and the trigger, I was all set. All I had to do was go into the kitchen every five minutes or so, hit the trigger, and that’s it.
Five minutes after I took the first picture, I went back into the kitchen and looked through the viewfinder, just to make sure I was still centered on the moon. I wasn’t, so I re-centered and took another picture.
Five minutes after that, I did the same thing, found that, again, I was not centered, so I re-centered and took another one. I figured that I must have bumped the camera or tripod without noticing, so I was extra careful this time.
Another five minutes passed, and I went to take another picture. Sure enough, the camera was no longer centered. I scratched my head and re-adjusted again and then it hit me like a ton of bricks.
The moon moves.
I had to re-adjust the camera and tripod before every picture, of course, and eventually the moon got high enough in the sky that I was getting reflections off of the kitchen windows, so I moved the tripod out to the deck. Luckily there were only patches of snow at the time, so I could go outside in my socks every few minutes without getting wet. As we moved towards totality, the exposure time kept increasing; between 9:32 and 9:55, exposure time went from 0.4 seconds to 4 seconds, and by 10:18 it was at 15 seconds. At 10:52 it was still 13 seconds, but at 11:15, it was back down to 2.
There are nicer and clearer pictures of the eclipse out there, but I’m pretty happy with mine. Here is a very cool video made up of a series of excellent pictures of the eclipse, though this guy is a much better photographer than I am, since he managed to keep the moon centered the whole time. Maybe the moon doesn’t move where he is.