Last Tuesday, April 17th, Venus shone brightly as dusk fell. It joined a beautiful crescent moon in the northwestern sky. Stars began to pop out while the night took hold. I had been out walking my hound and thought the silhouettes of the line of trees above the Elbow River near my home would help frame the conjunction nicely. When I got back to the house, I quickly gathered my gear and went out to the river – I’m glad I did.
As the moon dropped, I kept moving west, upriver, the descending tree line allowing me to keep the Moon in sight. Some gauzy clouds came in low and afforded some interesting, hazy halos around the Moon.
Eventually the Moon slipped behind the trees and quickly disappeared leaving Venus glowing in a sky filling up with stars.
Before I packed up, I took one last long exposure facing west where the river winds past Bragg Creek and on to the front range of the mountains in Kananaskis Country.
I was very excited to get out to photograph the most recent lunar eclipse. I kept an eye on the weather forecasts and knew clouds were moving over southern Alberta that night. I hoped for a break in the clouds but when I woke up early that morning the sky was low and heavy with no stars, or moon, to be seen. So, I packed up and headed west to see if I could get the western edge of the cloud front. My first glimpse was between Canmore and Banff when I came around a corner and the moon was hanging in the sky. That was not a safe place to stop and the moon alone in the blackness was not the image I had in mind so I kept going to Banff. Thought I still did take that shot a little while later!
Clouds returned by the time I was in the townsite so I headed up towards the hot springs to see if I could find a good vantage point. That didn’t pan out but when I came back down, the moon re-appeared. Now it was falling quickly towards the western flank of Cascade Mountain. Her and I then played a game of hide and seek as the clouds continued to drift in front of the red globe.
I framed the moon using trees and the mountain’s ridge line when the opportunities came. Within a few minutes it disappeared. I didn’t realize the image I was looking for but had a great time watching the spectacle. I have been able to photograph several lunar eclipses and always deeply enjoy the otherworldly beauty as the moon slips into and eventually out of the sun’s shadow.
The moon was scribbling on the surface of one of the Vermilion Lakes in Banff National Park on the weekend.
The forest fires in Washington are terribly frightening and I hope for rain and favourable winds to help the people down there. Here in the Calgary area, the smoke has carried north which has left the skies hazy for the past week.
In the morning, the sun glows red as it rises out of thickest part of the smoke just above the horizon.
At night, the moon’s color changes, seemingly with her mood, between gold, orange and red.
This third of four blood moons in the current tetrad of lunar eclipses occurred before dawn on April 4th in southern Alberta. I walked along the Elbow River to a spot I had scouted the evening before and set up my camera as the Earth’s shadow was about a 1/4 across the moon. With the magnification of a telephoto lens, I noticed haze that softened the definition on the moon’s surface. Thin clouds were obscuring the event and I hoped they would pass before the moon was completely in shadow. I snapped this photograph about a half hour before totality and within a few minutes the clouds thickened and the eclipse was gone. It was a beautiful morning nonetheless and the clouds foretold the snow that has blanketed the area over the last 24 hours. I had much better luck with the weather during the last blood moon. We’ll see what the September one has in store.
(Please click on the picture to open a higher resolution version of the image)
The October 23rd solar eclipse was at its maximum at 4:07 pm here in Calgary. It was a partial eclipse with the moon blocking out a majority, but not the entire sun. The sun swung like a pendulum behind the moon which afforded a couple of images of each of the distinct phases. The image above was taken at 4:07 PM MST which was at the maximum.
The image above was from 3:55 PM and the one below was taken at 4:13 PM as the sun and moon separated.
The clouds cleared at the point during this week’s eclipse when the moon was just coming out of the earth’s penumbra. The top edge of the full moon was just coming into e sunlight. The majority of the surface was still in shadow and was a deep reddish orange.
The glow from the moon coloured the landscape as well.
The moon left the shadow much too quickly for me but it was fun to watch the different looks as the clouds moved, the colours changed and the blood moon slipped away.
My son and I were in Banff for the weekend and went out for a drive along the Vermilion Lakes just before sunset on Saturday night. We stopped at the first lake to watch the colors deepen on the face of Mount Rundle as the sun was going down. Another photographer, Grace Chen visiting from Calgary, asked me where the moon would be rising. I had to admit that I didn’t know – I hadn’t done any planning as Kian and I were water sliding all afternoon and the drive was a last-minute decision. I was quite surprised when I next looked in the viewfinder and saw a sliver of white rising behind the mountain! It was fun to point at the peak as a response to her question.
The moon climbed quickly, becoming steadily brighter and I finished shooting less than half an hour after first seeing it. The sunlight on the mountain moved from deep yellow to a beautiful red while the sky steadily darkened. It was not quite a full moon, being at 98%, but was still bright and wonderful.
We started our stay in Mexico with a new moon, a week later this thin crescent met us on our last night. I love the deep shadows cast by her craters when the moon has just started waxing.
On the weekend, I found myself on a hill overlooking the farm fields south of Cochrane waiting for the morning to arrive. I had went out at 4 in the morning looking for the Northern Lights but they eluded me. This time of the year dawn comes early and by 4:30 there was already a bright line on the horizon to the east. I enjoyed listening to the birds waking up as I sat beside this gravel road hoping for a nice sunrise. As the sun prepared to rise, this wonderful cloud caught the early light and met all expectations that I brought to the day.
A few minutes later, the cloud hanging above the farmland took over the show. The colours and textures were brilliant. Dawn comes early but I’m rarely disappointed when I do force myself to roll out of bed and get out to enjoy it.
While the sun and the cloud were performing magic, the moon was full and glowing above the Rocky Mountains. I’m glad I had a look behind me while I was changing lenses as the view to the west was on equal terms with its eastern counterpart.
The moon gave it a great try but from our vantage point just west of Calgary, it just missed blocking out the sun this evening. This was in no way a failure on the moon’s part, just our position in the universe relative to it and the sun. As it was, the crescent created by the moon swinging in front of the sun was very impressive.
There was haze in the sky which worked well with the dark glass I had piled on to drop the bright sunlight as much as possible. When a thick cloud pulled above the horizon, I thought it might be too heavy but the colors and textures were amazing.
At this point I thought the moon may move into position in the ring of fire. I hadn’t looked into this solar eclipse much so I did not know if we were in the right location. It was exciting to watch the sun and moon approach. When the moon swung away, it was still great to watch.
Before Earth’s shadow started to march across the face of the moon last night, I photographed the full moon as it climbed above the trees in Redwood Meadows. You can see the mist around the moon and I was a little concerned that clouds and haze may obscure the visible signs of the direct alignment of the sun, Earth and moon. I didn’t know then that the clouds would largely stay clear or that I was in for a very interesting performance.
The solstice lunar eclipse started normally last night and I was out in the freezing cold photographing the progression towards totality.
Then, things started to get very strange… as the moon started racing around like an excited puppy.
I went to bed as the moon settled back down, slipping behind the Earth and into deep shadow.
I saw it looming large on the horizon this morning so it seems to have emerged from shadow and appears to be behaving predictably once more.
I enjoyed the lead up to the eclipse and the morning after was spectacular as well. The odd bit during the actual eclipse was very fun too although I’m still looking for a reasonable explanation.
Please note: the moon trails were created by moving the camera around slightly during longer exposures up to two seconds long. I wrote the story for a bit of fun not to be mistaken for an actual phenomenon observed.