December 2010 in New Jersey
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The gorgeous view of the moon taken at about 10 PM of Monday, December 20, 2010 in New Jersey, USA. It
was about three and half hours before the start of the lunar eclipse. There was a total lunar eclipse in the early
hours from about 1:30 AM to about 5 AM on Tuesday, December 21, 2010. So, I stayed up to take a few
pictures until the total lunar eclipse at about 2:40 AM.

The outside temperature on that night was very cold, about 22 degrees Fahrenheit. It was so cold that I could
not stay outside for hours. Instead, I went outside for only a few minutes to take a few shots, then came inside
the house with my camera. I was out and in several times to take this sequence of pictures until the total eclipse.

I was using my new compact super-zoom camera, Canon PowerShot SX30, with 35X optical zoom and 4X
digital zoom (with a total possible zoom of 140X). In this first picture, I zoomed beyond the 35X optical zoom in
order to see as much details as possible on the moon surface.
These deer are at least 50 yards or more away from me. If I try to walk closer to them, those deer will run
away from me. So, I had to use the 35X optical zoom of my compact super-zoom camera and my monopod to
zoom in to get such close up views.

I also took some movie clips in HD format of these deer in action in Dorbrook at the following YouTube

More partial eclipse. I tried my monopod and tripod in taking this series of eclipse pictures. I ended up using
my monopod most of the times because I have been using my monopod for several years and have become
very familiar with using the monopod with the super-zoom camera.

I felt it was very awkward to use the tripod with the super-zoom camera out at night in the dark. I was also
wearing a pair of globes because of the low temperature. The glove makes it even harder to take good
pictures at night in the dark, especially when the camera was pointing almost straight up. As is well known that
aiming the camera is not easy when the super-zoom is zoomed beyond 35X and may be up to 140X. The
image is very sensitive to any tiny movement of the camera and is often out of the frame and disappears
entirely. When I tried to adjust the aiming of the camera in the dark to point at the moon, I often touched or
pressed the wrong button(s) on the camera accidentally causing all kinds of problems because the camera
was not in the regular familiar position, but was pointing almost straight up.

It was much easier for me to sit down on a chair and to use my familiar monopod to help me to aim the
super-zoomed camera accurately and steadily at the moon.
Getting closer to the total eclipse
In this picture, the focus point of my camera probably was on the eclipsed, dark side of the moon such that the
brighter Crescent of the moon was over exposed. But the eclipsed side of the moon looks reddish orange in

A band of turquoise-blue edge to Earth's shadow set against the reddened moon on this picture and the next
picture was indescribably beautiful! The source of the turquoise is ozone. Atmospheric scientist Richard Keen
of the University of Colorado explains: "During a lunar eclipse, most of the light illuminating the moon passes
through the stratosphere where it is reddened by scattering. However, light passing through the upper
stratosphere penetrates the ozone layer, which absorbs red light and actually makes the passing light ray
bluer." This can be seen, he says, as a soft blue fringe around the red core of Earth's shadow. More
information on the beautiful colors of lunar eclipse is available in a
NASA Science article.
Among the large herd of deer, this is the only one that has antlers on its head. This one seems to be a young
male deer.
This is at the beginning of the partial eclipse at about 1:32 AM on Tuesday, December 21, 2010. Taking this
series of eclipse pictures was quite challenging because the moon was almost straight up overhead on the
night sky.

This lunar total eclipse is a very special event in the sense that it is the last Lunar Eclipse, the last Full Moon
and the last Winter Solstice (冬至 ) of the First Decade of 21st Century! And it coincides with the winter
solstice for the first time since 1638.
A perfect Christmas Gift from Mother Nature!

At total eclipse at about 2:40 AM, the moon light was much dimmer, but was still visible with reddish orange
color. At such low light condition, it was quite a challenge to focus the camera well to get a good picture of the
moon in total eclipse. For this entire series of lunar eclipse photos, I set my camera on Programmed Auto
Mode (P-Mode) for the camera to set all the parameters (including aperture size, shutter speed, ISO, etc.)
automatically for me. My duty was to aim the camera well and to focus well to get such pictures. Due to the
low light on the totally eclipsed moon, the camera kicked the ISO up to 800 resulting in the grainy picture from
the compact camera with relatively small photo image sensor.

Why is it red? According to NASA, indirect sunlight is able to pass through the Earth's atmosphere and cast a
glow on the moon through diffraction effect. The earth atmosphere filters out (or scatters away) blue light,
leaving red and orange colors glowing on the moon. More detailed explanation is available at:


The light you are seeing is the light of all the sunrises and sunsets of the Earth. It is one of the most poetic of
astronomical events.
In the winter season, there are huge number of black birds, probably starlings, in a farm field along the
Cranbury Road (Route 535) in East Brunswick, New Jersey.
That farm field along Cranbury Road is next to this sign of East Brunswick Tree Farm.
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On Friday, December 17, 2010, on the way home after the luncheon with a few friends in a seafood buffet
restaurant in Freehold, I stopped at Dorbrook Recreational Area along Route 537 in Colts Neck to watch and
to take pictures of many deer that often gather here in the winter season. There are several large fields
separated by tree lines on the south side of Dorbrook Recreational Area. The large herd of deer roams
among these fields. So, one needs to hike for about a mile through these tree lines to look for the large herd
of deer among these separate fields. After some hiking, I found them again.
More partial eclipse.

Several photography friends in other parts of USA regretted that they did not have the opportunity to take
pictures of this special total lunar eclipse because it was cloudy or raining or snowing in their areas. I am
lucky to have this golden opportunity in New Jersey with clear sky to take this series of pictures of total lunar
This huge group of black birds often takes to the air and is spectacular to watch. Therefore, I took several
video clips of this huge group of black birds in action in the air at the following YouTube websites:

The location of Dorbrook Recreational Area in Colts Neck is described in more details on my web page at:

That farm field with huge number of black birds is on the southeast side of the junction of Cranbury Road
(Route 535) and Davidson Mill Road in East Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.

Map: Click here to see Google Map showing location of this farm field
I parked my car in the parking lot of this small shopping center, "The Glen at Cranbury", at the northwest
corner of the road junction and walked across the Cranbury Road at the traffic light of the road junction to get
into the farm field to watch and to take movie clips of the huge group of black birds in action.
(In other words, if the earth had no atmosphere to diffract the sunlight, the moon under total eclipse would be
totally dark and invisible.)
This is the picture of the Super Moon that I took on the night of March 19, 2011 at 7:24 PM. It is called Super
Moon because the moon is at its closest distance to earth.

By comparing this picture of Super Moon to that taken at 10 PM on December 20, 2010 just before the lunar
Eclipse, we see the following differences:

1.        The one taken on December 20, 2010 looks like a black and White picture whereas the one taken on
March 19, 2011 is more brownish in color. This probably is due to the big difference in the positions of the
moon in the sky. On December 20, 2010 near lunar eclipse time, the moon was almost straight up overhead in
the sky. On the other hand, on March 19, 2011 at 7:24 PM, the moon was very low in sky close to the
horizon. As we know, when sun and moon are at low angle, their lights go through longer distance in earth
atmosphere so that sun light at sunset time or sunrise time are in golden color.
2.        The portions of the moon surface facing us on these two dates differ substantially.
A list of several good locations for bird watching and bird photography in winter season in or near New Jersey
is on my web page at:

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