The world is all set to experience the longest lunar eclipse of the century on July 27, as the moon will pass through the center of the earth’s shadow and go dark. The total lunar eclipse is set to take place and will be visible in India on the night of July 27 through to early morning on July 28, and will last for one hour and 43 minutes in total. Apart from the total lunar eclipse, the event will also witness a blood moon, where the moon takes on a shade of red.
The start of the lunar phase will be at around 11:45PM (IST) on July 27, while the total eclipse phase will begin at around 1AM (IST) on July 28. The total eclipse phase will end at around 2:43AM (IST) which will be the start of the partial eclipse phase. The position of the earth and the timing mean that the eclipse will be visible from many parts of the earth, including Asia.
During the eclipse, the blood moon will also be visible, with the light conditions causing the earth’s only natural satellite to take on a shade of red. We last experienced a major eclipse event in January this year, which was incidentally also a blood moon event.
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Now, the occurrence is not something that we see every day, and if you want to capture photos, you can do it using a DSLR camera, or even from your smartphone. You’ll need a tripod to ensure your device is steady. However, capturing the night sky isn’t as simple as pointing your camera at the subject and clicking the shutter button. There’s an element of trial and error involved as well. So, let’s go ahead and see how to click photos of the eclipse.
Using a DSLR to capture the eclipse
Whether you have an entry-level DSLR such as the Canon EOS 1200D, Nikon D3300 or a high-end one such as the Sony A-series, you’ll need a telephoto lens. And the longer, the better. Usually, most photographers will have short zooms from 24-mm wide-angle to 250-mm telephoto lens. And while that is good for usual photography, it isn’t ideal for zooming on a celestial body that is orbiting 238,900 miles from the earth. Which means you’ll need a 400mm, 500mm or 600mm lens to capture the super blue blood moon. These lenses are mostly used by pros for shooting sports.
Once you have the required telephoto lens, attach to your DSLR and mount it on the tripod. You’ll also need to know which direction to look into, and you can use an app such as Sky Map to figure out where the eclipse will be. Now, switch to manual mode, and crank the ISO down to 100 or 200, because the moon will be very bright. Next, you’ll need to try a range of shutter speeds between 1/60 to 1/125 to stop the action. You can also slow down the shutter and try one-minute or two-minute to look at the difference. And because these cameras are digital, and you can instantly see the results, you can quickly check what is working for you, what isn’t.
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Using a smartphone to capture the eclipse
Before we talk about how to capture the rare phenomenon using your smartphone, let us clarify that there are some caveats. While zoom is available on smartphones, it is ‘digital’ zoom which just crops your image, and thus it can’t produce DSLR like results. And as the moon looks big in a DSLR’s telephoto lens, it is hard to do that with a smartphone.
If you own a high-end smartphone that comes with a telephoto lens, you can use add-on accessories such as ‘Moment lenses.’ Similarly, for iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X, you can use Olloclip, which promises 2X zoom.
The procedure to capture photos is similar to what you do on a DSLR. Put the phone on a tripod, switch to manual mode in the camera app, lower the ISO to 100 or 200, and try different shutter speeds between 1/60 to 1/125 or lower, until you get the desired results. While iPhones don’t support manual mode, you’ll have to download third-party apps such as Halide, Camera+, ProCam 2, ProShot, Obscura Camera and Manual among others. Do note that these are paid apps costing anywhere between Rs 250 to Rs 1,000 or more.