Eclipse triptych

By Geoff Sims

There were three eclipses in 2014 which were visible from Australia, each offering a unique opportunity to obtain time lapse sequences.

First up, in mid-April, there was a total lunar eclipse.  As viewed from the east coast of Australia, the Moon would rise in total eclipse during twilight. This provided the chance to photograph the red Moon in the dusk sky, and while the landscape was still illuminated.  My home city of Sydney was looking cloudy, so a short flight north was in order.  I photographed the eclipse from Broken Head (near Byron Bay) which is near the NSW/QLD border.  Clouds prevented me from capturing the exact moment of Moonrise, however there were enough breaks which allowed some interesting sequences to be obtained. Surprisingly, there were a lot of people out and about on the beach to watch the event, as seen in the wide angle video.

A mere two weeks later an annular solar eclipse occurred in Antarctica.  As far as we know, no human being observed the annular phase (since logistically it would have required "wintering over" at the French/Italian Concordia station at Dome C).  Thankfully, the partial phases of this eclipse were widely visible across Australia.  Once again, the weather forecast was looking dodgy around Sydney, but an international flight the next day prevented me from escaping too far.  I made the decision to photograph the eclipse from a lookout near Glenbrook, at the base of the Blue Mountains.  This was more a decision for a scenic location rather than weather-wise, but I lucked out again because Sydney was mostly clouded out.  The money shot this time was going to be a real time video of the partially eclipsed Sun sinking below the horizon; but alas - it was not to be.  I was covered in clouds shortly after first contact.  On the flip side, at least I saw something, and the clouds made for a brilliant sunset!

The final eclipse of 2014 (for Australia) was another total lunar eclipse.  This time, from eastern Australia, the Moon would be much higher in the sky, and would require a different photographic approach.  For the third time this year, Sydney had a terrible forecast for the eclipse, so after checking a number of numerical weather models, I made a dash about 3 hours west, to the Capertee lookout near Lithgow.  I had perfectly clear skies, at an amazingly beautiful location.  As well as the "standard" wide angle and telephoto sequences, I busted out my old film camera (an Olympus OM-1) and took a 3 hour exposure of the entire lunar eclipse.  It was fun to use film again after such a long hiatus!

I hope you enjoy the compilation video of these three events, which also includes some behind the scenes footage of yours truly in action!

I am working on a few exciting projects in coming months - including a documentary project and live blogs as we travel to Svalbard in the the high Arctic to view a total solar eclipse next year!  To keep up to date with these and other eclipse-related projects, please follow us via: