Belt of Venus and Partial Eclipse

September 22, 2006


Provided by: Tony Cook
Summary authors & editors: Tony Cook

I realized the possibility of this picture 4 years ago, and it has taken 3 attempts to get the right lunar eclipse and sunset conditions to photograph the beginning and end of an approximately 1/4 million mile (400,000 km) long shadow! I spent the better part of the day of the event checking weather forecasts and planning possible photographic locations. Eventually I drove from my home in Leeds, U.K., 30 miles (48 km) to the top of the Sutton Bank escarpment as it was forecast to steadily clear there -- it finally did just before moonrise.

What are we seeing and why is it so special? The pink band in the sky on the opposite horizon from the Sun is the "Belt of Venus," the back scattered reddened light cast in our own atmosphere as the Sun sets (or rises). Underneath is a blue/grey band that fills the sky between the horizon and the Belt of Venus. This darkened sky is the top of Earth’s own shadow rising as the Sun sets. Meanwhile, a quarter of a million miles away, the bottom of the same shadow is cast on the rising partially eclipsed Moon (lower center). We're seeing hear the beginning and end of a long, long shadow.

Photo taken from Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire Moors, U.K. on September 07, 2006, 19:07 UT

Photo details: Canon 10D camera, 28-80 mm telephoto at 28 mm, 0.3 seconds, f 5.6, ISO 200.

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