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Red moon on air - Eclipse live from Dreieich

The Total Lunar Eclipse on 03./04. March 2007 in Dreieich-Götzenhain

Experience Report

After approximately 2 1/2 years on the night of 03. to 04. March 2007 there was again a total lunar eclipse, which was observable from Central Europe. Already on 07. September 2006 the new "lunar eclipse season", which goes until August 2008 announced itself with a partial lunar eclipse.

For the partial lunar eclipse on 07. September 2006 I offered for the first time a near live reporting of an eclipse event on the internet. It had just evolved that way (also because the weather permitted the observation at a location with internet connection), newest digital images provided with a short comment, placed already during the eclipse on the internet. Only a few weeks before the new astronomy portal, developed by Harald Petrich, went online, so that it offered a good platform for this.

In the course of this eclipse I had got the idea, whether the portal could be extended and also live images could be sent via it, in order to circumvent the much worse weather forecasts at the beginning of March at the total lunar eclipse (the more senders, the higher the chances that at least one of them can show something of the lunar eclipse there).

I bought a webcam equipment for my telescopes and Harald developed a PC application of for the camera control, as well as the appropriate extensions in the portal. After numerous tests and adjustments in the course of the following months the weather permitted then (at least partly) on 23. February 2007 the first live transmission of a special astronomical event, a Pleiades occultation by the moon. One week later the successful transmission of the egress of the Saturn behind the lunar surface followed at the Saturn eclipse on 02. March 2007.

So the technology had proven its practice fitness, a long-term transmission followed already on the same day with the view to the moon at the evening of 02. March 2007.

From the vision "AstroNation - the astronomy network should learn to see! So that one day we have 1000 eyes, and one, which uses THE cloud gap, that is missed by the others!" finally became reality, even if only 3 eyes went to the start, nevertheless one had success the total lunar eclipse could be shown live on the Internet.

On 03. March 2007 it was stormy during the day. There were deep clouds, which had only very few to no gaps. The 3 the AstroCams were ready. showed weather pictures from Weil der Stadt (near Stuttgart), Dreieich (Rhine Main area) and Eberswalde near Berlin. Everywhere the same bad weather!

On the evening in Weil der Stadt and Dreieich first cloud gaps showed up. With beginning of the darkness the WeatherCams went off-line. The current satellite photographs and the astroweather forecast on showed enormous cloud-poor areas in the west and northwest, over Belgium, France and the western North Sea. Due to the strong wind velocities the prospects were well, to be able to see at least a part of the lunar eclipse at home, in Dreieich.

Shortly before 18 o'clock my co-observer Uwe Müller arrived. Around 19 o'clock it was clear that it would be the best to remain on site, no decision to change the place to see the lunar eclipse.

Still it is stormy and the sky 100% cloud covered. We use the time for dinner. On I see more and more visitors, but only a few new registrations. This lets me insert a description of the registration procedure there.

After 20 o'clock the storm decreases, around 20:45 the cloud cover becomes thinner, there are first small cloud gaps. At the zenith a light grey glow of moon light is recognizable.

Punctually around 21 o'clock it happens! The moon appeared between the clouds. Up, outside to the roof terrace and the telescopes and cameras setup. Close to close 5 tripods stand, their equipment, which they carry, now being aligned to the southeast uninterruptedly.

At 21:07 I am online the first time this evening with a live picture of the moon. The numbers of visitors on AstroNation increases from minute to minute. Although still before the first contact, to the beginning to the penumbra eclipse at 21:16, the moon disappears again behind clouds and up to the west horizon the sky is overcast again, the numbers of visitors continue to go up: 300 shortly before 21 o'clock, a little bit later 400, then the number of 500 is exceeded. At 21:23 first messages of the data base show that the server hat reached its load limit.

The moon is still hidden behind clouds, the first penumbral phase in fully in progress and I do not see anything of it. Also I do not see anything of anymore. A lapidary message comes up: "this internet site is unfortunately not available".

21:07 o'clock – long time before beginning of the first partial phase the moon comes back. I adjust telescopes and cameras again. 21:10 o'clock everything is adjusted. I am prepared to continue the live transmission, but I can not log in repeatedly. I already give up the live transmission internally, because is not further available. I dedicate myself to the classical negative photography at the Revue refractor. Clearly recognizable is the shading of the approaching umbra at the bottom left hand corner.

At the other end of the telephone line Harald sits in Eberswalde near Berlin and notifies that he submitted an emergency ticket at the provider of AstroNation. Then I get the info from him, that the complete website will be moved within the next half hour onto a high speed server, in order to be able to master the large number of page access demands.

Like already before we remain in connection by chat. 22:54: Harald gets access again to, however not me. When is the changed DNS name finally replicated? Much to long I work on repeatedly to empty the local DNS cache, to restart the transmission application and the computer, to try it on another machine, all in vain, I can not login again. I have a wonderful WebCam picture of the progressing partial lunar eclipse, except me and Uwe nobody can see it, and I also can not record it, because a login is required for that.

I recognize that I worry much too much about the computer, because it is eclipse and much too long I do not look at it! In the meantime the first partial phase has progressed far, only a small crescent at the top margin of the moon shines in the sunlight.

The sky became dark. I take some analog photos through the Revue refractor. Then I install the camera at the Celestron C5, because this telescope is tracked and so long exposure times are possible, that are necessary for imaging the red moon. A first picture through the C5 at 8 seconds: Right beside the moon a star stands, the decreasing crescent lets wonderful colors on the eclipsed moon be visible.

First Partial Phase

23:38 CET - End of the first partial phase - shortly before beginning of the totality

taken in Dreieich-Götzenhain with a Canon EOS500N focally at a Celestron C5 (D=125mm, f=1250mm), 8 seconds exposed on Fuji400 negative film. Right underneath the nearly totally eclipsed moon the 5.9mag bright star 56 LEO can be seen.

On the WebCam image also the star beside the moon is beautifully visible. And I still cannot log in with the transmission software. I try to reach the website now via and come in! Approximately 2000 visitors gather there! I have the moon on my laptop and can not send him with my transmission software. It is so unfortunate!

Harald does not have a view to the moon in Eberswalde, but he is active in the background, adapts the server scripts to the new performance requirements and mails me newest updates of the transmission software.

The moon is now totally eclipsed, no light of the sun reaches any point of the moon directly now. Only dawning light from the terrestrial atmosphere is there. The whole moon shines darkly in wonderful colors. A strong red, at the top margin still with more yellow and green portions, at the lower edge the red is already nearly a dark brown. It comes to my mind, that the variety of the life on Earth reflects itself in these colors. But that is surely exaggerated, nevertheless a marvelous sight!

The webcam shows me the colored moon on the screen of my laptop, but I cannot log in at 00:07 o'clock yet. Also the new version of the transmission software does not permit a login.

Total Lunar Eclipse

00:22 CET - Total Lunar Eclipse

taken in Dreieich-Götzenhain with a Canon EOS500N focally through a Celestron C5 (D=125mm, f=1250mm), 28 seconds exposed on Fuji400 negative film. Beside the totally eclipsed moon the 5.9mag bright star 56 Leonis can be seen.

I take analog pictures at the C5, focally at up to 30 seconds of exposure time. Another time I try again to log in for my live image, and this time it works! Now only the "GO LIVE" button clicked – and finally I am online!

At 00:27 the red moon goes on air. But the telescope with the webcam, a SkyWatcher Refractor (D=80mm, f=400mm), installed piggyback onto the C5, which I bought myself only a few days before (it gives a better screen window for the moon than the 70/700 offers), is not yet correctly aligned. It loosened a little bit and cannot be fixed so easily any longer. When the picture is stable I give Harald a "go" to again send out a newsletter to the AstroNation users, that there are live images now.

Lunar Eclipse in Leo

00:59 MEZ - Lunar Eclipse in the Constellation Leo (the lion)

taken in Dreieich-Götzenhain with a Canon EOS500N and 50mm normal lens, 15 seconds exposed on Fuji400 negative film at f2.8.

Then I dedicate myself again completely to the ongoing natural spectacle. The red moon stands in the midst of the stage, which presents itself before the roof terrace. A dark sky around, by clear air and late hour for the Rhine Main area beautifully dark. Over the moon lies the constellation Leo, about 20 degrees to the left from the moon Saturn beams from the sky.

The moon now becomes brighter on its left side again. The totality goes to an end. I take further pictures in the C5. In the now following 2nd partial phase the bright crescent at the left lunar limb forms and over-glares more and more a further star of the lion, which is now exactly left to the moon.

My live transmission runs problem-free beside that, now and then I enter a current status comment. My fingers are clammy by the cool temperatures, no used surrounding to work with a PC keyboard.

AstroCam Screenshot

Red moon on air - screenshot

Screenshot of the camera control and monitoring software "AstroCam GO LIVE" of AstroNation taken during the lunar eclipse.

Now again a few clouds come up, a nice opportunity to take a few pictures with the tele lens at 200mm and 300mm. The clouds consolidated themselves to a broad flat cloud bank, so that the 2. half of the partial phase and the transition to the 2. penumbral phase can not to be observed.

Second Partial Phase

01:29 CET - Second Partial hase

Moon during the second partial phase of the Total Lunar Eclipse on 04.03.2007 at 01:29 CET, taken with a Jenoptik JD5.0Z3 digital camera through a SkyWatcher 70/700 with 30mm eyepiece. Left beside the moon the star 59 Leonis (mag 4.9) can be seen.

Lunar eclipse and moving clouds

01:34 CET - Lunar eclipse and moving clouds

taken in Dreieich-Götzenhain with a Canon EOS500N and 75-300mm tele zoom, 3 seconds exposed on Fuji400negative film, at 300mm and f5.6.

Second Partial Phase

01:53 MEZ - Second Partial Phase

taken in Dreieich-Götzenhain with a Canon EOS500N and 2x Canon tele converter focally behind a Revue refractor (f=910mm, D=60mm), 1/10 second exposed on Fuji400 negative film.

Lunar Eclipse and Clouds

01:54 CET - Lunar Eclipse and Clouds

taken in Dreieich-Götzenhain with a Canon EOS500N and 75-300mm Tele zoom, 1/20 second exposed on Fuji400 negative film at 300mm and f5.6.

The sky has got a blue again. Light blue seam over the horizons gives summer color to the landscape. It is nearly windless.

As the moon comes to appearance again the penumbral phase comes slowly to an end. Starting from 03:25 o'clock it is again completely normal full moon. I terminate the live transmission.

Observation of the 2. penumbral phase

02:36 CET - Observation of the 2. penumbral phase

Observation of the 2. penumbral phase of the Total Lunar Eclipse on 04.03.2007 around 02:36 CET in Dreieich-Götzenhain. On this picture the observation equipment and the equipment for the live transmission that ran on, can be seen: On the left SkyWatcher 80/400 Refractor with Philips AstroCam and 0.5x focal reducer (not visible) piggyback mounted on a Celestron C5 telescope. Right mounted as twins on a Berlebach ash wood tripod a Revue refractor 60/910 with focally positioned Canon EOS500N camera and 2x tele converter, and a SkyWatcher 70/700 refractor. Completely down on the right the laptop, to which the AstroCam was attached and which served for the monitoring of the live images. Self triggered image taken with a Jenoptik JD5.0z3 digital camera.

What dramatic weather improvement in the few hours! This lunar eclipse was a colorful experience, an exciting experience and additionally an interactive experience. Owing to new technologies and internet a completely new approach to link professional aspects and the astronomical experience with one another.

Stephan Heinsius, Dreieich, 07. March 2007, revision on 13. and 18. March 2007.

Last update of this page: 18. March 2007.

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