Blood Moon 2019: how to photograph the total lunar eclipse from January 20 to 21, 2019

This weekend there will be a total lunar eclipse on the night of January 20-21, and it will be visible to all photographers in the United Kingdom and throughout the United States. UU., If the sky is clear.

The show will see the moon take an orange or reddish color for more than an hour, which can be a unique photograph.

A total lunar eclipse should not be confused with a total solar eclipse, a much more dramatic and short-lived event that occurred in 2017 in the USA. UU While it is a difficult subject to photograph, a total lunar eclipse is much easier to capture using any camera equipped with a decent zoom capability.

Here is everything you need to know to capture the most dramatic "blood moon" of your life.


A "blood moon" is usually a copper-orange-brown color. Image: ESO / P. Horálek

What is a total lunar eclipse?

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon moves towards the darkest part of the shadow of the Earth projected in space. It can only happen during a full moon, where the Earth is precisely between the sun and our satellite.

Although a full moon occurs every 29 days, the moon has an inclined and somewhat wobbly orbit around the Earth, which means that it rarely pbades through the shadow of the Earth. When it pbades through part of the shadow, the result is a partial lunar eclipse.

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your favorite blood moon shots

All that happens during a partial lunar eclipse is that the full moon is much more opaque (and, therefore, much easier to photograph than normal). This is also how a total lunar eclipse begins and ends, but only during a total lunar eclipse does the moon enter the darkest part of the Earth's shadow, where it turns red.

Total Lunar Eclipse by Marko Grzunov / 500px / Getty Images

Total Lunar Eclipse by Marko Grzunov / 500px

(Image: © Getty Images)

Why the moon turns red?

As it begins to enter the dark shadow of the Earth, an edge of the moon begins to look pink-orange-brown, changing to red as the event reaches its peak. Once you have entered that darkest area of ​​the shadow, it is what is called totality, where the sunlight is bending through the atmosphere of the Earth and towards the Moon.

Then, like a sunset, it is red because the light that is entering your eyes travels through much of the Earth's atmosphere, so the light projected onto the lunar surface is also red. Physics is very similar.

Do I need special equipment?

Unlike a total solar eclipse, for which special glbades (for humans) and ND filters (for cameras) are essential to see the partial phases, the entire spectacle of a total lunar eclipse is very easy for the eyes. No special equipment is needed, just a zoom lens or a telescope.

Blood moon over berlin. Wizard: Hagens World Photography / Getty Images

Blood Moon over Berlin, filmed in 2015. Image: Hagens World Photography

From where is the blood moon visible?

Unlike a total solar eclipse, which is visible only from a very narrow path on the surface of the Earth, and only for a few minutes, a total lunar eclipse is more egalitarian. In fact, the entire night side of the Earth can see a total lunar eclipse.

The total eclipse of the Moon that will occur on January 21, 2019 will be visible from the United Kingdom, Europe, Africa and Asia. So you're going to have a good view?

From an astronomical perspective, it is better if the moon enters the shadow of the Earth while it is high in the sky from where it is observed. In that way, you can see the whole event, including the partial phase that leads to the whole, the whole itself and the next partial phase.


A "moon of blood" that emerges from the whole. Image: ESA / Jan Hattenbach

At what time will the blood moon be visible from the United Kingdom?

UK photographers have a great opportunity, and a long time, to get a special photo. If you want to take pictures of a full moon that is much less bright than usual, leave at 2:30 a.m. on January 21, 2019 when the moon enters the outer shadow of the Earth. However, if you just want to capture the "blood moon", the key time to be outside is 4.40 am. The moon will be completely red around 5.10 a.m. (a moment called totality), and it will have lost its color at 5.45 a.m.

You can check the exact timetables in

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At what time will the blood moon be visible in America?

The prospects in North America are also good … In Los Angeles, the eclipse will begin on the night of Sunday, January 20, with the partial Eclipse starting at 9.33pm. The Blood Moon will be visible from 8.41pm to 9.43am.

In New York, the eclipse will also begin on the night of January 20, and the partial Eclipse will begin at 10.33 pm. The blood moon will be visible from 11.41 pm to 12.43 am (so it will start on Sunday and end on Monday).

You can check the exact timetables for your precise location in

A moon eclipsed over NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center. Image: NASA / Carla Thomas

A moon eclipsed over NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center. Image: NASA / Carla Thomas

How to photograph a total lunar eclipse.

Given the clear skies, which is certainly not inevitable, photographing a total lunar eclipse is not technically difficult.

The first thing you need to do is to verify where the moon will be in the sky, if the clouds stay out of the way. You can use applications like PhotoPills and The Photographer & # 39; s Ephemeris (TPE) to accurately plan your shot; try to get the moon out between buildings or trees, and consider finding a pond or lake for reflections.

Read more: 15 of the best photo apps for iOS and Android

It will also suppress the brightness of the moon enough, so it should be easy enough to photograph within an interesting composition. It is very rare to have the opportunity to photograph a blood moon within a landscape; It is usually photographed high in the sky on a black background.

While any camera with a wide-angle lens can be used to capture the landscape, the reddening of the moon will be better captured using a zoom lens, preferably one more than 200 mm (and ideally 400 mm or more).

It is obvious that your camera should be placed on a tripod, but there are some other things to think about that are unique to this total lunar eclipse. Most online tutorials are designed to photograph the entire moon when it comes to a dark background, but this will be during the blue hour and within a landscape.

Shutter speed

The shutter speed is a key factor. Since the moon orbits the Earth at a speed of 2,288 mph and the Earth rotates at approximately 600 mph in the United Kingdom, it rotates faster on the surface the closer it is to the equator, the greater problem is avoiding a blurred image. That means you should always use a high shutter speed to get enough sharpness.

To avoid blur, never use a shutter speed slower than 1 / 100sec. The sensitivity can remain between ISO 200 and 800, but in the total eclipse stage the moon will remain red, and by that time, the sky will be dark, so it could increase its ISO.

Read more: How to photograph during the blue hour.

While the aperture will have to be narrower than normal for a full moon, it should be fully open at f / 4 (or f / 2.8 if your lens can cope with that). It is difficult to be precise, since the brightness of the totally eclipsed moon is a mystery until it appears, so simply hold the camera in its manual exposure mode and experiment with various apertures and ISO settings.

When the moon comes out of the central shadow of the Earth, it will be half illuminated. Image: CC0 Creative Commons

When the moon comes out of the central shadow of the Earth, it will be half illuminated. Image: CC0 Creative Commons

When is the next total eclipse of the moon?

After the night of January 20, the next visible total lunar eclipse will be on May 6, 2021, but it will not be as visible in the US. UU., And it will not be visible at all in the United Kingdom (Australia will receive one of the best views).

Jamie Carter is the editor of

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