Capturing the super moon lunar eclipse: a bloody challenge!

4:06a.m. Incoming text message: “Hey! I don’t know if you are looking at the moon with your camera, but it’s amazing!”

4:07a.m. “Yes, I have been freezing my ass off for 1hr already!!”

The alarm clock was set at 3a.m. to bike South of Paris, France towards Parc Montsouris to get a clear view on this rare phenomenon: the supermoon lunar eclipse.

About 150 people are gathered there thanks to the French Astronomical Organization (Association Française d’Astronomie, AFA): some die hards geared up with serious lenses from big telescopes to cameras on tripods, some from the organization pointing to the very welcome coffee table and giving some tips, some curious using their smartphones to get a shot of that satellite 356 877 km away (this is almost the closest the moon gets to the Earth, making it a “super” moon)!

The smell of weed being smoked by a few and the sleepy whispers of the dark shadows mixed with louder awes and astonishments surround us while we are lying on the humid grass to take photos. We are cursing ourselves as we forgot an essential part of the tripod, forcing an improvised support with our backpacks on the ground.

At 4:11a.m. and three instant coffees later, the total eclipse starts: the sun, the Earth and the moon are aligned. The only rays lighting the Earth’s satellite are filtered by its atmosphere absorbing part of the white spectrum of the sun light and tainting the moon red. Despite the light polluted environment in Paris, we are lucky to observe a beautiful super blood moon for another hour before it brightens up as the direct sun rays reach it.

Capturing photos is a tough exercise as it takes a while to get the appropriate settings: ISO, shutter speed, exposure… On top of that, these parameters evolve as the moon gets in then out of the shadow of the Earth, so they fairly often have to be adapted manually. Changing the settings becomes tougher as our hands get numb with the cold and our bodies start shaking.

“Wow, that was awesome! In 2033 for the next supermoon lunar eclipse, you’ll remember the tripod and I’ll take a blanket!”

Claire & Marcella

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