How To Get the Best Photograph of Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse on Sunday

On May 15, a total lunar eclipse is due to occur across most of the United States.

A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth comes between the sun and the moon. The eclipse should appear red in color, creating what is known as a "blood moon," and be a magnificent sight for those with clear skies.

A lunar eclipse only occurs during a full moon and happens two to three times a year. The next eclipse in 2022 is not due to occur until November 8, meaning many will want to capture the phenomenon on camera.

Newsweek spoke to astro photographer Leonardo Di Maggio to find out how to take the perfect snap.

How To Photograph an Eclipse
Stock photo illustrating how to photograph an eclipse Getty

Equipment

Di Maggio told Newsweek that lunar eclipses are actually a very accessible spectacle to photograph, even for amateurs.

"You can actually shoot the lunar eclipse with any photography equipment, even the most entry level," he said.

Unlike solar eclipses, no special equipment is required to view a lunar eclipse—during a solar eclipse, it is important not to look directly at it. Although no additional equipment is needed, binoculars or a telescope can help.

While photographers are able to use any type of camera, it is vital to have complete manual control over its settings, according to Space.com.

The best results will come when the camera is set at an ISO of 400, using an f/stop of f/8 or f/11, according to Nikon. The shutter speed should also be set to Bulb.

As the eclipse begins, Nikon says photographers should place the moon in a singular corner of the camera's viewfinder. This way, the moon will move across the camera's field of view.

Lenses

The types of lenses used depends on the type of picture the photographer wants to capture.

Using a long telephoto lens will ensure a close shot of the eclipse, however a wide lens will enable a shot of the eclipse's path against a landscape.

Di Maggio said that in order to get just the moon in the shot, photographers will need a telephoto lens with a focal length of at least 500mm.

"If you want the eclipse against a foreground then it is best to use a wide angle lens with a focal length of 16-85mm," he said. "For the most dramatic photos some photographers combine the two techniques and align foreground elements like a building or cliff with a telephoto lens, this gives the impression that the moon is huge and very close to what you are photographing."

Tripod

If using telephoto lenses, Di Maggio said a tripod is essential in photographing the lunar eclipse.

It is also wise to invest in one that is sturdy, and able to withhold winds and other unexpected weather.

To ensure the tripod is stable, photographers can also use a monopod to support the lens.

Lighting

Completely clear skies and a dark environment away from light pollution will create the best viewing conditions for the lunar eclipse, but it is not impossible to get a good picture in bad conditions.

Di Maggio said "it will need to be clear of clouds" on the night so that photographers can see the spectacle.

"But unlike many astronomical events you can actually see the lunar eclipse in a city with lots of light pollution," Di Maggio said.

This is another reason why a lunar eclipse is a good starting point for amateur astro photographers.

"It will get very dark so be sure to pack a torch and as it will be in the middle of the night plenty of warm clothes," Di Maggio said.

The moon will begin entering Earth's shadow at around 9:32 p.m. ET on May 15. According to a NASA blog post, it may not become noticeable for an hour or so.