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Frost-Saints Eclipse

The total lunar eclipse on 16. May 2003 in Dreieich-Dreieichenhain, Germany

Experience Report

Already in the late evening of 15. May the view from the balcony toward southeast showed a full moon over the forest of Dreieichenhain, lighting up in yellowish green colors, as otherwise in December the winter sun about one hour after sunrise. Due to its southern position the moon did not rise up like the winter sun very high. The sky was clear. The last remaining clouds of the Frost-Saints had dissolved in the meantime and made place for a short clear cool full moon night.

Not only for the Dreieichenhain full moon the night was short. Also for me the forthcoming lunar eclipse on the early morning of 16. May meant a short sleeping time at this night. Between 2 and 3 o'clock I packed the in the evening before already divided observation instruments into my car, in order to arrive around 3 o'clock at the intended observation place on the height between air traffic control station and elevated reservoir. The highest hill in the north of Dreieichenhain permitted a view to the moon, which stood together with the weakly recognizable constellation of Scorpius in the southwest above the town. At the edge of the dirt road "auf der Hub" I stationed my observation instruments, consisting of a Celestron C5 (f=1250mm, D=125mm) with focally installed Olympus OM1 as well as Revue refractor (f=910mm, D=60mm) with Canon EOS500N and 2x tele converter for photography and a SkyWatcher refractor (f=700mm, D=70mm) for observation, as well as a video camera Sony DCR VX 700 with 2x tele converter for occasional video recording.

Penumbral phase

Penumbral phase - observation instruments in the moon light

At 03:35 CEST taken with a Canon EOS500N and 24-85mm Canon zoom lens at 45mm, 15 seconds exposed at f5.6 on Fuji200 negative film (photograph place: Dreieich-Dreieichenhain).

The Moon shortly before entering Earth’s shadow

The Moon shortly before entering Earth’s shadow

At 04:00 CEST taken with a Canon EOS500N focally through a Revue Refractor (f=910mm, D=60mm) with Canon 2x tele converter, 1/8 second exposed on Fuji200 negative film (photograph place: Dreieich-Dreieichenhain).

Tenderly the moon light gleamed in the green ears of the adjacent barley field, behind it the town, the forest and above it the not yet as eclipsed recognizable moon. Already at 03:06 CEST the penumbral eclipse had begun, this however slowly became recognizable around 03:30 CEST. At the eastern edge of the moon it became a little bit darker. Until approximately 4 o'clock the penumbral eclipse became more and more clearly visible, until at 04:03 CEST the edge of the umbra had finally reached the moon. Like a kiss of darkness the shade laid itself to the right mouth corner of the moon face. The narrow kiss became larger and larger, as if now instead of a kiss a piece of the moon would be bitten out, but not as by sharp teeth - completely gentle and tender was the transition from light to shade.

4:30 o'clock. Earth's curvature now laid like a bow crosswise over the center of the moon, the soft transition caused by the atmosphere of the Earth. Which continent straight at the edge throws the shadow? The moon light shrinks. In the meantime my note pad for recording of the exposure data becomes more difficult to read. But fast that becomes increasingly simpler again. In the meantime behind my back it had already begun a little to dawn. In the 8x30 binoculars the lunar eclipse however still shows its whole beauty. The remaining part of the moon yellowish, the separating bow of the Earth umbra, and beautifully recognizable brownishly red indicated the surface up to the edge of the eclipsed part of the moon. But sharply the light from the still sun illuminated part beams in and does not permit unimpaired views to the eclipsed moon landscape.

Moon in Earth's umbra

The Earth's umbra lays like an bow over the moon

At 04:39 CEST taken with a Olympus OM1 focally through a Celestron C5 telescope (f=1250mm, D=125mm), 1/4 second exposed on Fuji400 negative film (photograph place: Dreieich-Dreieichenhain).

Eclipse über Dreieichenhain

Eclipse over Dreieichenhain

At 04:49 CEST taken with a Canon EOS500N and Canon Tele zoom 75-300mm at 120mm, 4 seconds exposed at f4.5 on Fuji200 negative film (photograph place: Dreieich Dreieichenhain).

The moon moved further to the western direction and sank further down. Incessantly the unusual lunar crescent became smaller. Eclipse over Dreieichenhain. The landscape became better and better visible, from the back more and more dawn light beamed in. What would be possible more likely: A sight similarly as on 16. September 1997, when the partially eclipsed moon rose over the Dreieich landscape, or still a view to the totally eclipsed moon some degrees over the horizon, which is formed here about 0.5 degrees lying over the mathematical horizon by the silhouette of the southwest Dreieich forest?

It becomes brighter quickly, the moon quickly narrower. I ran about 250 meters the way to the west, in order to see the eclipse directly over the trees of my garden. The sky became in the meantime ice-water-blue, the moon shrunk. It was now only a small narrow strip in the sky. The blue became brighter and brighter and prevailed with beginning of the totality at 05:14 CEST completely. The moon drowned in the icy blue of the southwest sky some degrees over the horizon of Dreieichenhain. There was no more chance to see it any more, even in the telescope no trace of the totally eclipsed moon. It had become simply too bright in the meantime.

Eclipse above trees

Eclipse above trees

At 04:52 CEST taken with a Canon EOS500N and Canon tele zoom 75-300mm at 180mm, 4 seconds exposed at f4.5 on Fuji200 negative film (photograph place: Dreieich-Dreieichenhain).

Lunar eclipse over the field

Lunar eclipse over the field

At 04:53 CEST taken with a Canon EOS500N and Canon tele zoom 75-300mm at 120mm, 4 seconds exposed at f4.5 on Fuji200 negative film (photograph place: Dreieich-Dreieichenhain).

A remainder of the moon

A remainder of the moon disappears in the blue sky

At 05:07 CEST taken with a Canon EOS500N focally through a Revue refractor (f=910mm, D=60mm) 1/2 second exposed on Fuji200 negative film (photograph place: Dreieich-Dreieichenhain).

Sunrise at the Ebertsberg

Sunrise at the Ebertsberg

At 05:48 CEST taken with a Canon EOS500N on Fuji200 negative film. On the left the bar pyramid before the air traffic control station in Dreieich Götzenhain , on the right the Ebertsberg (photograph place: Dreieich Götzenhain).

I went about 50 meters further to the east to get a view to the east to the immediately rising sun. I had estimated the sunrise on 05:45 CEST, but around 05:43 CEST the upper edge of the sun already showed up north the Ebertsberg. The instruments had became in the meantime soppy by the dew of the night. The rosen sun showed the quantity of the water drops. Already during the imaging of the lunar eclipse I had to fight plentifully with the steam up of the lenses. As if not only the moon would have drowned at the damp sky-blue of the Frost-Saints…

The rising sun permitted me a dress rehearsal for the forthcoming solar eclipse on 31. May 2003 in Dreieich, whose maximum should decorate the sunrise over Dreieich for a narrow solar crescent.

Stephan Heinsius, Dreieich, 16. May 2003, addition by pictures on 26. May and 01. June 2003.

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