Conditions looked awful as I prepared my Astroscan for action; the skies were overcast and threatening to continue the trend of heavy shower activity that had dominated the weather all weekend. This was one reason why I had brought this particular telescope, of course; the Edmund Astroscan is extremely portable and can be assembled and/or disassembled in seconds. The second reason was to give Members of the Public a view thru a basic, inexpensive telescope; one less intimidating than many (gadget-laden) modern amateur instruments. Obviously, I'm a big fan of this simple, easy-to-use telescope; I've owned one since they were first introduced in the late 1970s!
|The Mighty (if miniscule) Astroscan!|
In all there were three instruments on the grassy knoll for the public to view the eclipse through; my Astroscan (perched on a picnic table), Bob's 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector and Bird's tripod-mounted binoculars. In addition Astronomy Curator Kelly Herbst was busy with her team, working-through some technical issues to get a live-feed of the eclipse set-up in the cafe. Not a bad idea, considering the weather!
The overcast did have some small clear-spots by the time our natural satellite rose above the trees that surround the Museum, and when first Umbral contact rolled around--just past 2100--we were actually seeing the Moon clearly for brief periods. By this time there was a considerable crowd of drip-dry observers gathered around the site, and we worked hard to ensure that as many people as possible got a glimpse of the developing eclipse before the clear apertures in the cloud-cover moved on!
Frequent readers will already be aware that I enjoy new astronomical experiences. Some will even know the story of how I once observed a lunar eclipse from the Arabian desert--during a sandstorm! At this juncture I can report that the total lunar eclipse of 27-28 September gave me an entirely new opportunity... the chance to view an astronomical event through a distant cloud-hole while rain poured down upon me and my telescope. Thank goodness I had my dew-cap in place--and a helpful guest's raincoat held over the eyepiece!
Totality came...not the much-ballyhooed "Blood Moon" but a darker, more sullen affair. The CNN image above shows the Moon just entering totality, with a rime of sunlit-regolith along one edge of the disk; at full-eclipse I would estimate it to have been an L=2 on the "Danjon Scale" below:
- L = 0: Very dark eclipse, moon almost invisible, especially in mid-totality.
- L = 1: Dark eclipse, gray or brownish coloration, details distinguishable only with difficulty.
- L = 2: Deep red or rust-colored eclipse, with a very dark central part in the shadow, and outer edge of the umbra relatively bright.
- L = 3: Brick-red eclipse, usually with a bright or yellow rim to the shadow.
- L = 4: Very bright copper-red or orange eclipse, with a bluish, very bright shadow rim. Source: Space.Com
Next time, in addition to my Plossl eyepieces and moon-map I think I'll pack an umbrella and rain- slicker!