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I had planned to get out of bed at about 5:30 to brew some coffee and start watching the eclipse, but subconsciously I must have been fairly excited as my eyes popped open at 4 AM and I could not fall back asleep. I took a look outside as the predictions were for thick cirrus clouds and to my surprise the skies were reasonably clear. I had not been up at this hour to do any astronomy in quite some time, so with well over an hour prior to the eclipse, I opened up my observatory and took my first look at Mars during this apparition. Unfortunately, the seeing was poor and using my 12 inch SCT I had to keep magnifications very low to obtain a steady image at the eyepiece. As Mars is only about 7.5 arcseconds in diameter right now, it was very difficult to tease out any of the features at low magnification, other than the bright north polar cap...and even that was ill defined. Given that Mars was high overhead in Leo, I was not expecting much more when pointing the scope over to Saturn. Saturn is not far from the bright star Spica and is sitting much closer to the southern horizon. Similar to Mars, the image of Saturn in the eyepiece was mush. Back inside to warm up and pour a cup of coffee and start eclipse watching.
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While I am not a photographer, I do want to call attention to accomplished Arizona amateur astronomer Tom Polakis who imaged the eclipse. Based near Phoenix, Tom Polakis captured several nice images that he stitched into a time lapse. Click on the image below to see the time lapse full size. This represents exactly how the eclipse appeared to me visually.
Tucson based amateur astronomer and photographer Sam Rua traveled east of Kitt Peak National Observatory and captured this beautiful photograph of the eclipsed moon and some thin cirrus clouds setting behind the observatories. You can visit Sam's gallery by clicking here.