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Penumbra over the Dreieich forest

The penumbral lunar eclipse on 20. November 2002 in Dreieich-Dreieichenhain, Germany

Experience report


In November 2002 2 celestial events lined up at two sequential nights. In the night to 19.11. the Leonid meteor shower, which should be, according to the forecasts, the last spectacular one for many years, and in the night to 20.11. a penumbral lunar eclipse, which should be relatively deep, but as a penumbral eclipse be less remarkable than last observed total lunar eclipse on 09.01.2001.

At the observation site in the south of Dreieich-Dreieichenhain, Germany, Jupiter, located near the radiant of the Leonids showed up from 2:30 to approximately 2:45 in the night to 19.11.. An approx. 5-10 degrees narrow and approx. 20 degrees broad cloud hole permitted this view, completely unexpectedly, after in the evening before the conditions with a closing sky looked bad. During the indicated time I could not sight one Leonid despite the proximity to the radiant.

In the west the moon stood behind high cloud strips. In the northeast, the direction from that the clouds moved in, it seemed to become better. The situation worsened however appreciably. The cloud course turned to east and in front of the moon could be recognized that the clouds thickened. In the west above the airport smaller clear ranges kept themselves, however due to the flat point of view only few degrees large. Also they became smaller. The cloud view reached up to approximately 20 degrees of altitude, below of that due to darkness and haze nothing could be recognized.

It became overcast in such a manner that for the expected maximum of the Leonids between 4:30 o'clock and 5:00 o'clock not even the moon could be seen.

In the following evening it looked the same, thus still few chances to be able to observe the second celestial event, the penumbral eclipse of the Moon on 20.11..

The surprise followed in the second half of the night. Around 02:30 the eclipsed moon stood only accompanied by thin flat clouds in the comfortable angle of approx. 45 degrees on the western sky. To recognize completely clearly at first sight with the naked eye: The north of the moon is gently shaded. The view through my Skywatcher (700mm f10) telescope showed the darkening clearly, decorated by moving flat clouds, which at no time were thick enough to cover the moon completely.

The focal photography through my Revue refractor (910mm, f16) was only possible hinderedly by the moving clouds, because the exposure times constantly changed. Against 3 o'clock it was then nearly completely cloudless, and arrive to me a few photographs with additional tele converter (1820mm).

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

The moon in the penumbra at 910mm

Maximum of the eclipse at 02:47 taken with a Canon EOS500N focally through a Revue refractor (f=910mm, D=60mm), 1/250 second exposed on Fuji400 negative film.

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

The moon in the penumbra at 1820mm

At 03:02 taken with a Canon EOS500N focally through a Revue refractor (f=910mm, D=60mm) with Canon 2x tele converter, 1/15 second exposed on Fuji400 negative film.

Moon and Clouds

Typical cloud situation around the moon

At 03:23 taken with a Canon EOS500N and Canon tele zoom 75-300mm at approx. 115mm and f4,5, 1/4 second exposed on Fuji400 negative film.

The tender moon light threw summerly shadows on my observation place and its environment. From my balcony in the direction west the direct view to the moon, the white walls of the houses in the mild moon light lighting up. The view to the south goes to the near Dreieich forest, over which the penumbra of the moon gives an idea of the beauty of the eclipse. Silence. Each individual noise that remained, could be recognized. In the distance a few cars on the highway direction Offenthal, the call of the owls from the near forest and fields. For a few minutes the rumbling of an airplane tenths of kilometers distant taking off to the southeast, which disappears over the forest into the distance. Also a few howling dogs from the animal shelter to the south gave the moon lighting effect of the mild November night its magical to be experienced.

Moon light over the forest of Dreieich

Moon light over the forest of Dreieich

At 03:31 taken with a Canon EOS500N and 24-85mm Canon zoom lens at 24mm, 15 seconds exposed on Fuji400 negative film at f4,0.

Telescopes in the moon light

Telescopes in the moon light

At 03:34 taken with a Canon EOS500N and 24-85mm Canon zoom lens at 24mm, 8 seconds exposed on Fuji400 negative film at f4,0.

The penumbra disappeared imperceptibly and the full moon shone so strongly that the view through the telescope really dazzled. Shortly before 4 o'clock I terminated the successful observation and forest moon mood night for me contently.

Now it should last only a half moon orbit, until it comes again to the completely great event, on 04. December 2002 to the total solar eclipse in the Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Dreieich, 25. November 2002 (text written) and 14. December 2002 (pictures added).

Gestaltung und Inhalt: Stephan Heinsius, D-63303 Dreieich, ┬ęSH 2002 - all rights reserved


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