Posted on September 28, 2015
As is widely known, last evening’s so called Super Moon also treated us to a Blood Moon total lunar eclipse in the bargain. A sufficiently infrequent event that I was positively salivating at the prospect of using multiple cameras to get both a time-lapse and still images.
Then, just this week we got word that Cathy’s brother Steve Zeisler had selected yesterday, Sunday, September 27th as the day he was retiring as the senior pastor at Palo Alto’s Peninsula Bible Church after a 43 year run there, following his time as a Stanford University student and football athlete. Another sufficiently infrequent event, that it, too, was not to be missed. We took trusty N111TT and flew up for the day, the plan being to leave there in time to return to Montgomery Field, put the plane away, and rush to my chosen photo site along a ridge in the Torrey Pines Reserve. Boy, but there were a lot of well-deserved testimonials from the Stanford and Silicon Valley types that are the parishioners there. Steve and his bride, Leslie are such a class act, so genuine salt of the earth types, and the affection of their friends is so sincere, this was a thoroughly touching event, and an honor to be there. We quickly forgot the scooting out midway through plan, and Cathy, Torrey and I stayed until everyone repaired to the patio for munchies and drinks, then scooted out.
We took an Uber ride back to Palo Alto and were shortly ensconced at 9,500 feet on a nearly direct southeasterly course. The flight was smooth and scenic in both directions.
While still at the church I figured if we got off by four-thirty, we should be able to catch the initial moonrise while near the Orange/San Diego County lines, and that is exactly how it turned out. As promised, the moon broke the horizon already showing the penumbral shadowing of a partial eclipse heading toward totality—best seen on the initial image, above.
Arriving and maneuvering for our landing, I eschewed my usual hand-flown descent and made liberal use of the autopilot to free me up for images of the rapidly advancing umbral shadow of the developing total eclipse. What a great platform to accomplish all this.
Airplane back in the barn, I was able to set up just off taxiways Bravo and Hotel for this positively glowing view.
A few more shots there, then back to Del Mar for additional images of the various stages of the Blood Moon, which is not easy for me to shoot well. The dimness of the eclipse makes focusing and exposure a challenge, especially if you want to bring out the lunar surface features.
The farther the shadow retreated, the easier it was to focus and reveal the surface mare, craters, and green cheese.
I had researched the moonset, as well, which was this morning at 07:15. I made my usual mental request for the muse to awaken me if there was going to be a viable show. I awoke at 05:45 and discovered pea soup fog had enveloped us, so I rolled over trying for more shuteye. Then about 06:30 the muse alarm went off, and I discovered a fog reprieve.
So, all in all, a nice day in the life. Great for we three Del Martians, bittersweetly reinforcing for Steve, Leslie and family. As ever, TWC
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