lunar image of the month

january: time lapse lunar eclipse

This month sees a lunar eclipse, during which the Earth's shadow falls on the Moon. Unlike solar eclipses, which are only visible from the region inside the Moon's smaller shadow (last month's was essentially a North American event), lunar eclipses can be seen by anyone on the Moon-facing side of the planet. Weather permitting, over the duration of the eclipse this means more than 50% of the Earth's surface.

In this four hour exposure, taken from the monastery of Sant Llorenc del Munt, Girona, Spain, the Moon leaves a large trail as it travels across the sky. The movement is mostly due to Earth's rotation (360° per 24h) but partly due to the Moon's revolution around the Earth (about 12° per 24h). As the Moon passes into the shadow the Moon's trail becomes dim and some of the stars leave trails of their own. The three smaller breaks in the lunar trail are due to cloud cover after the eclipse.

Image: Juan Carlos Casado.