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Live Camera from Subaru Telescope Delivers View of the Total Lunar Eclipse to the World

June 7, 2021
Last updated: August 26, 2021

Video 1: The time-lapse view of the sky during the eclipse, taken by the "Subaru-Asahi Sky Camera" (480x speed) (Credit: Subaru Telescope, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, and Asahi Newspaper Company)

May 25, 2021 (Hawai`i time) marked the first total lunar eclipse visible from Hawai`i in three years. A special live feed from the Subaru Telescope's "Subaru-Asahi Sky Camera" showed the stars in the night sky and the band of the Milky Way appearing to brighten relatively as the skyglow from the Moon dropped due to the total lunar eclipse.

This high-sensitivity live camera was installed on the Subaru Telescope in cooperation with the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and the Asahi Shimbun (Asahi Newspaper Company, Japan). On May 25, the day of the total lunar eclipse, the camera was relocated to place the dynamic night sky and the total lunar eclipse in the field of view, with the Subaru Telescope enclosure in the foreground.

Video 2: Shooting stars captured by the "Subaru-Asahi Sky Camera" during the total lunar eclipse (Credit: Subaru Telescope, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, and Asahi Newspaper Company)

In addition, the Project PANOPTES team, a citizen science project based at the Subaru Telescope offices, designed a live streaming website "Total Lunar Eclipse - Live from Hawai`i" to publicize the event. The website also served as a platform to simultaneously watch three live streams organized by three different teams from three different locations on the Big Island of Hawai`i. Staff from Subaru Telescope participated in each of these three initiatives, which were based at Maunakea, Maunaloa, and Waimea on the island. The viewers enjoyed different views of the total lunar eclipse, with fields of view spanning from the wide starry sky to a close-up of the Moon.

Live Camera from Subaru Telescope Delivers View of the Total Lunar Eclipse to the World Figure3

Figure 1: Total lunar eclipse captured by the citizen science Project "PANOPTES". A digital SLR camera and a medium telephoto lens were used to capture the lunar eclipse with a 10 x 15 degree field of view. Here, the image has been cropped to focus on the Moon. Also, the area around the Moon is darkened due to image processing to bring out the details in the background starry sky during the eclipse. Original image is hear. (Location: Maunaloa, Hawai`i Island, Credit: Project PANOPTES)

Fortunately, the Island of Hawai`i was blessed with good weather, and we were able to capture the lunar eclipse from the beginning to the end. The three teams, i.e. "Subaru-Asahi Sky Camera," Project PANOPTES, and Starry Knights, broadcast the total lunar eclipse in cooperation with the Asahi Shimbun, timeanddate.com, and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan’s Mitaka Headquarters. A total of about 3 million viewers enjoyed the "Supermoon Lunar Eclipse" and the beautiful night sky over Maunakea.

In 2021, there will be another "almost total" lunar eclipse in November. Again, Hawai`i will be the best site to observe the lunar eclipse. Let's enjoy it again!

Video 3: Time-lapse movie taken by PANOPTES, a citizen science project (credit: Project PANOPTES

(Note 1) PANOPTES (Panoptic Astronomical Networked Observatories for a Public Transiting Exoplanets Survey) is a citizen science project that aims to detect exoplanets using the transit method by building a worldwide network of small, low-cost, robotic telescopes that anyone can easily build. Dr. Olivier Guyon of Subaru Telescope is involved in PANOPTES as a founder, and several staff members from Maunakea Observatories are also members.

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