Jenkins-Of-Ewelme Web Site


Total Eclipse of the Moon

On the 21st February 2008 at between 03:00 and 04:30 in the morning, I attempted to take pictures of the foretold total eclipse of the Moon. Mind you, it was a bit inconvenient having to get up in the middle of the night to observe this unusual phenomenon, but I was determined to join the ranks of  true amateur astronomers!  Apart from an eclipse of the Sun, it seems a bit odd to try to capture an object, when its usual reflection of light from the Sun is overshadowed, and therefore dark. However, I can assure you that this was no mean feat, in that it was cloudy with  only occasional short breaks. To cap it all, I discovered that in preparing to start taking pictures, I found I couldn't see a thing through the eyepiece, and soon established that everything, including the 10" mirror, was running with dew!! I was too wide awake to go back to bed again, so  came up with a cunning plan. I crept back up into the bedroom and felt around for Margaret's hair dryer. By playing this onto the back of the Dobsonian reflector for 10 minutes or so, things started to look a little brighter, and I took as many pictures as I could. A few of them were not too bad, albeit noisy. The recognisable pattern of contrasting craters and 'seas' can be made out thanks to 'earthshine'. Of course, an astronaut standing on the Moon would be experiencing a total eclipse of the Sun.

Eclipse of the Moon

Watching the morning news a little later, the eclipse was announced as having taken place during the night, and a picture taken from the USA was shown, with an explanation that it was too cloudy in the UK to see the eclipse and that nobody was able to see it here!! WHAT?! A few days later, I received an astronomy newsletter I had signed up for. Again, apparently, no-one in the UK had bothered to get up! Nobody had bothered to contact the Ewelme Observatory had they? Had I nearly caught my death for nothing? I had to respond, and the result can be seen at Famous or what?!


During the Spring of 2009, there was a notice pinned up on the Village Hall notice board. "Ewelme Horticultural Show - Photographic entries - This years theme, 'Shadows'". Ah, I thought, I've got just the thing "The Greatest Shadow on Earth - Literary". I also had what I thought was quite a reasonable photograph I had taken of the family in long shadows on a beach in Devon a couple of years back (see 'Shadows').  A few weeks before the show, I received the show programme and entry form, and to my great disappointment discovered that the photograph had to be taken within the last 12 months and only one entry each. It did cross my mind to enter them anyway, but never having entered such an event before, and having heard of the serious nature and rivalry of entrants at these shows, I felt I just couldn't bring myself to cheat. Imagine my chagrin when I saw the winning entry of a couple's shadow on the ground, which in my opinion was just not in the same league as my beach composition! Also, one entry was of the entrant standing next to a youngish Hank Marvin of 'The Shadows', which must have been taken 40 years earlier. It didn't win a prize, but the audacity of not sticking to the rules. Right - I don't know what the theme is yet, but just wait until next year!! How about 'Sand and Rocks'?


Afocal photography
Afocal photograpy means taking a photograph of what is seen through the eyepiece of the telescope. This is quite well illustrated in the following picture of the moon during daylight, where the outline of the eyepiece can be seen.

The Moon of course, is the easiest astronomical object to photograph, and I have quite a few. The following pictures just highlight some of the familiar features.

The structure of the Moon's craters are best seen when it is not full, and the surface is highlighted at the interface between dark and light - the terminator.

Having just obtained a zoom eyepiece, will hopefully yield some more interesting crater closeups.