Australia gets the best view of this partial lunar eclipse
August will bring about a partial Lunar Eclipse and we here in Australia will have a great view. During this eclipse, only part of the moon will be in the Earth's shadow and should be visible as a bite taken out the corner of the moon. Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Darwin and Tasmania will be able to see the whole eclipse while people in Sydney and Brisbane will only be able to see the eclipse at moonset.
Photo of a partial lunar eclipse courtesy of Jörg Weingrill @ Flickr
What is a Partial Lunar Eclipse
There are a few fancy words that we can use to describe lunar eclipses. An umbral eclipse is where the Earth lies between the moon and the sun. A penumbral eclipse is where only a proportion of the sun's light is obscured by the Earth. This results in a subtle dimming of the moon.
This eclipse will be a partial umbral eclipse, which means that part of the moon will fall directly under Earth's shadow and the rest will be dimmed by the penumbral shadow. The result will be that when you look at the moon, part of it will appear missing. This will be clearly visible because the moon should be full on the night of the 7th and the morning of the 8th.
Viewing the Eclipse
There really isn't that much to viewing a lunar eclipse other than to look up at the moon at the right time. The total time that lasts is around 5 hours as the moon moves into the Earth's penumbral (partial) shadow and the proper eclipse will last 1 hour and 55 minutes, when the umbral shadow blackens out part of the moon.
Australia is in one of the best places in the world to view this lunar eclipse. In most of Australia, you will be able to see the whole eclipse, while on the east coast of the mainland it will only be visible at around moonset.
I will start by giving you the times in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and below I will list the times for specific cities in Australia. The eclipse begins at 15:50 GMT with the first dimming of the moon and the eclipse proper starts at 17:22 GMT. The height of the eclipse will be at 18:20 GMT and finishes an hour later at 19:18 GMT. The final dimming ends at 20:50 GMT.
So to translate that into times for Australia, below are the times of the height of the eclipse for the major cities. Remember the eclipse will start an hour before the time given and the penumbral eclipse about and extra hour and a half hour before that. For Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane it is at 4:20 am, Adelaide it is at 3:50 am and Perth it is 2:20 am.
Photographing the Lunar Eclipse
Photographing the lunar eclipse is not that much different from photographing the moon at other times. You want a camera where you can adjust the aperture and timing settings. You don't need an expensive camera, but a good lens helps. You will also need a tripod.
The basic settings to try are an aperture of about f/8 or f/11 and a 1/125 second exposure. Of course, you should play around with these setting a little to see what works with your lens and camera. Remember that no lunar eclipse is complete blackness. Rather the area of shadow is quite dark, but the rest of the moon will also be partly dimmed as well by the penumbral shadow.