The science of eclipses

A total eclipse of the moon
September 13, 2015

In the early hours of September 28th there will be a particularly spectacular lunar eclipse when the moon will be 10% closer to the Earth and larger than usual – a super moon, in fact. A lunar eclipse happens when the Sun, Earth and Moon are in a straight line, so that the moon passes through the Earth’s shadow. If you were standing on the moon when this happened, you’d…


Blood Moon

The Moon blood red because it's completely inside the Earth's shadow.
August 21, 2015

Total Lunar Eclipse April 15th 2014, as seen from the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter. In the early hours of September 28th the moon will plunge into the Earth’s shadow and turn blood red. It’s a perfectly normal event, produced by the combined orbits of the earth and moon and the effect of the Earth’s atmosphere bending the sunlight like a lens, but it’s dramatic and spooky, and if you didn’t…


Star birth

Stars being born inside the Sharpless 2-106 Nebula (S106)
October 10, 2014

  This amazing picture of stars being born inside a nebula was taken by Daniel Lopez using Grantecan. Near the centre of the picture is a dark red spot – that’s the new star which shines mostly in the infrared. The butterfly shape is a large disk of dust and gas orbiting the star. The gas near the star shines because it is ionized (like the inside of a flourescent…


Early morning photography.

November 23, 2013

The Big Dipper over Santa Cruz de La Palma I got up early to try to see comet ISON (which is low in the east just before dawn). There was only one cloud in the starry sky. Yup. Right in front of the comet. Since I was up anyway, I decided that I may as well practise a bit of astro-photography. I need the practice after all. So here is…


Partial lunar eclipse

Multiple exposure of the partial lunar eclipse, 25/04/13Photo: Ana Garcia
April 27, 2013

  Partial Lunar eclipses are quite common. Photos like this aren’t. It was taken by Ana Garcia of, who offer observations (tours or private), telescope rental, the  “Los Indianos” tour in Santa Cruz de La Palma and tailored astronomy travel packages.


The Moon and Venus

  I’m glad I woke up early today. These were taken from my balcony in Breña Baja at 6:30 am. For the top one I used a compact camera (Canan SX220) and tripod. For the bottom one, a Pentax DSLR (K 10D) and tripod. On La Palma, you can get results like this with very modest equipment and skill.

June 17, 2012