Shooting to the Moon and Back

Updated: Jun 20, 2021

The humble moon that rises night after night may not call for much attention, but on 26th May 2021, many were gawking at the velvety night sky to catch a glimpse of the Super Blood Moon.

Millions around the world went shutter crazy and captured tons of photographs that erupted on social media channels.

What is the Blood Moon?

The Blood Moon is a total lunar eclipse that happens during the perigee phase of the moon (i.e. when the Moon is at its closest point to Earth on its orbit).

For those who missed it, do not despair. There are two lunar eclipses this year and the next is set to take place on 19th November 2021. This second eclipse is only a partial eclipse so it would not be as bold or as impressive as the one we had experienced in May. Still, it is worth making a note of this in your Calendar so you can get your cameras ready!

The Super Blood Moon (sometimes also known as the Flower Moon) is called “Super” for a reason. According to Professor Fred Watson, Astronomer-in-Charge of the Anglo-Australian Observatory (AAO) at Siding Spring near Coonabarabran, the Blood Moon looks around 14% bigger and appears approximately 30% brighter than its micro moon phase. While our eyes are not able to pick up on these numerical differences, it is still quite a mesmerising sight to behold.

What is interesting is, the moon has not really ballooned up suddenly. It is actually a state of optical or moon illusion. As it was rising, it looked bigger than it really was.

Australia was one of the best spots (except for Western Australia), along with New Zealand and Hawaii to enjoy this amazing phenomenon. When the Earth cast a shadow across the moon, it took on hues of reddish pink. The total eclipse lasted 13 minutes from 9:11pm to 9:25pm. Some may even have spotted the heart of the Scorpion Antares (´Rival of Mars´), which is a star that was shining brightly near the moon in eclipse.

Shutter Happy Bugs

The Blood Moon was an opportunity not to be missed by shutterbugs all over, and professional photographers had their gear all ready to capture that special moment.The big plus point of a moon eclipse is, you do not need to don your shades and can stare all you want without searing your eyesight. Whether it was with the quintessential mobile phone or the full photography arsenal, everyone was waiting outside or from their windows for Mother Nature to wow everyone.

One of these professional photographers was Andy Cheung from ArcK Photography. He is a professional sports photographer specialising in tennis with more than twelve years of experience, and accredited for photographing more than twenty Grand Slam Championships and other tennis events world wide. That night, he put aside his fascination with tennis balls for something just as round but much, much bigger. As they say, aim for the skies and that was what Andy did.

It was cold and windy that night at Sydney Harbour Foreshore, but Andy was hardly bothered. He was all prepared to record the stunning astronomical event, and it was well worth the 4-hour wait as he created this amazing composite (not to scale).

Amazing composite by Andy Cheung at Sydney Harbour Foreshore, Blood Moon, Lunar Eclipse, Brilliant-Online
Amazing composite by Andy Cheung at Sydney Harbour Foreshore

Andy is also the official photographer for UK Tennis Magazine since 2012, British Tennis Coaching Association, Sydney International Tennis Tournament for Tennis Australia, Tennis Australia, Hong Kong Tennis Open, and Hong Hong SportSoho Magazine. His photos have been on public exhibition in recent years (2016 - 2020) in Sydney and Melbourne. Born in Hong Kong and trained in the United Kingdom, Andy now resides in Australia with his family.

Another shutterbug who was thrilled about the eclipse was Geoffrey Lind, a retiree and volunteer at the Marine Rescue Jacobs Well in Queensland. Geoffrey is a keen amateur photographer, and he proved you do not need to be a super professional to capture a piece of nature's magic for all eternity. All you need is your own backyard, purchase some fittings to hook up your DSLR camera to a telescope and you are ready to imprint a beautiful Blood Moon onto film. While he did not manage to get the shots he wanted in the moment itself, he persevered and the results were still amazing!

Lunar Eclipse captured by Geoffrey Lind, Blood Moon, Australia, Brilliant-Online