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Eclipse on the parking deck

The total lunar eclipse on 09 January 2001 in Cologne Gremberghoven

Experience report


After the total lunar eclipse on 21 January 2000 remained completely hidden behind a closed cloud cover at my observation site Dreieich Dreieichenhain, now in the industrial area of Cologne Gremberghoven a further chance was offered to me to observe a total lunar eclipse in January.

On Tuesday, 9. January 2001 during the day the sky of Cologne Gremberghoven was heavily cloudy. Only few small cloud holes left a small hope to see and/or photograph the eclipsed moon in the evening at least for a short moment. During the day to the south, in the area around Bonn, the situation looked better. Larger cloud holes kept there, which reached only some degrees over the horizon.

With darkening the situation changed. Now the clouds were thinnest directly over the industrial area of Cologne Gremberghoven. During the dusk the still full moon came out for a few minutes between the clouds in an orange tone in front of a light blue background. When it was completely dark then around 18:30, the southeastern lunar areas looked like being covered by clouds. But clouds again and again passed by and this effect remained existing. I would not have expected that the penumbral eclipse already had begun, would be seen so clearly.

Shortly after 19 o'clock I went out of the office to the nearby parking deck, where on its highest floor my car with the observation instruments was parked. While I setup the instruments the moon came out, and the minutes passed by until 19:42, when the first partial phase began. The deeper clouds, which had dominated over the day, now were clearly less. But behind it a high Cirrus layer showed up, which was still quite thin however.

Now my two telescopes came into action, a 910mm Revue refractor (D=60mm) on an ash wood tripod (for photographs with a Canon EOS500N) and a Celestron C5 with 1250mm focal length (D=125mm) used for observation, for focal photography and for adjusting the Sony video camera DCR VX 700 with 2x tele converter.

I photographed the first partial phase with the Revue telescope focally with 910mm, whereas the camera was installed on its own tripod, connected with the telescope only by a loosely cardboard tube. I use this construction already for a long time. It has the advantage, that there is no blurring of the focal image by the lifting up mirror of the camera. However focusing is extremely laborious by adjustment of the tripod legs and/or the position of the camera, and becomes a challenge, if additionally a 2x tele converter is used, in order to photograph the moon picture-filling at 1820mm focal length. Then the moon remains only for a few seconds within the picture. If this timeframe is not enough, in order to do the focusing, the adjustment begins again.

Lunar Eclipse 2001

The first partial phase

At 20:04 taken with a Canon EOS500N focally through a Revue refractor (f=910mm, D=60mm), 1/30 second exposed on Fuji800 negative film.

With increasing eclipse of the moon I let run a recording of a timelapse video. My video camera recorded every 30 seconds 0.2 seconds. During the partial phase the light cirrus clouds did not disappear. About 20 minutes before totality a deeper thicker cloud moved in front of the moon. Just the with longest edge-to edge distance the cloud had moved in front of the moon. Some minutes before beginning of totality the moon could be observed again. But when the moon appeared again it was further impaired by cirres, but already visible clearly in the red-brownish light of the total eclipse. The beginning of the totality at 20:49 could not be observed, because it was just during another, approximately 5 minutes long cloud break.

This eclipse looked more brownish and grey, than the moon totalities, which I had observed 1986, 1996 and 1997. The coloration looked even somewhat grey-blue at the edge, that had got some sunlight last.

Now I decided for some focal images through the C5, because without adjusting there was no chance for a picture of the totality through the refractor despite the usage of 800-ASA-film, especially as the clouds weakened the moon reliably around some apertures additionally. Since I had used the C5-Teleskop before for the observation, I had to focus now through the again installed photo camera. Because of the weak light that was very difficult. Then I took a 20-second image at 1250mm focally. The moon became weaker and weaker. The cirres consolidated itself. The compression of the clouds varied, so that still some photographs were possible. Then the moon disappeared against 21:20 behind the thicker become cirrus clouds. Thus the lunar eclipse seemed terminated for me. During the day it looked much more badly. I was nevertheless content to have been able to seen the moon quite a long while.



At 21:02 taken with a Canon EOS500N focally through a Celestron C5-telescope (f=1250mm, D=125mm), 20 seconds exposed on Fuji800 negative film.

Lunar eclipse over the parking deck

Lunar eclipse over the parking deck

At 21:05 taken with a Canon EOS500N and 24-85mm Canon zoom lens at 24mm, 20 seconds exposed on Fuji800 negative film at f5,6.

But around 21:45 again a lighter glow of the totality was recognized. The transition to the partial phase around 21:51 could be seen already clearer. Now the increasing strength of the sunlight, which fell again on the moon, showed up. Similarly to the diamond ring effect at a solar eclipse a narrow edge of the moon shone through the cirrus clouds, which did not be so thick at all, only for the weak moon in its totality they were too strong. With increasing light on the moon the density of the clouds decreased also more and more. I took photos of the second partial phase through the C5 and afterwards some 1820mm-images through the refractor by the way described above.

Jupiter and Saturn west of the moon now again were visible clearly. With end of the partial eclipse around 22:59 one was rewarded with a magnificent halo. The halo was really large, it looked like a giant planet, which stood at the sky, and with its diameter of approx. 45 degrees over-powerfully. It looked nearly like a disk, because the inside of the halo looked rather brownish, in contrast to the rather bluish milky sky environment.

Egress out of Earth’s umbra

Egress out of Earth’s umbra

At 22:02 taken with a Canon EOS500N focally through a Celestron C5-telescope (f=1250mm, D=125mm), 2 seconds exposed on Fuji800 negative film.

Penumbral eclipse

Penumbral eclipse

At 23:01 taken with a Canon EOS500N focally through a Revue refractor (f=910mm, D=60mm), 1/6 second exposed on Fuji800 negative film.



At 23:10 taken with a Canon EOS500N and 24-85mm Canon zoom lens at 24mm, 8 seconds exposed on Fuji800 negative film at f4.

Full Moon

Full moon some minutes before end of the penumbral eclipse

At 23:48 taken with a Canon EOS500N focally through a Revue refractor (f=910mm, D=60mm) with 2x tele converter, 1/60 second exposed on Fuji800 negative film.

About one hour later, at the end of the again clearly visible penumbral eclipse, the moon then was nearly completely free of disturbances by clouds. Also the halo had disappeared. Stars could be seen, as for example of the Orion, and it became a bright full moon night. Around 0:30 I had packed all things and left in my car the parking deck again, that with this eclipse has left a lasting impression to me.

Stephan Heinsius.

Dreieich, 12. January 2001.

Supplement from 03. February 2001:

Due to the cloud situation on 09. January many of my pictures are under-exposed. The pictures shown here are however correctly exposed, but at the ones exposed longest, which I took on 09 January. For a clear sky the indicated exposure times probably will be partly substantially too long.

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