Friday, October 22, 2010

Shooting the Moon

 I've always enjoyed nighttime photography but I've never had the advantage of a telescope. So I always made do with a camera. My current model, a Canon SX20IS is perfectly suited to "shooting the moon" and I've been following the phases through the last couple of weeks. Now that we've passed full, I'll not be getting up later and later to follow what's ahead ... but it's not much different than what's behind.

 This moon is 3.2 days old. If you'd like to see how the "age" of the moon is figured, follow this link. There isn't a whole lot visible when the moon is this young but I like the earthy coloration at this stage.

 A 5.2 day old moon begins to cast some light and even with a camera and a zoom (about 20x), you can see some craters.

 I've opened the shutter up a bit and a 6.8 day old moon shows lots of pock-marks. The two "mares" (seas) at the top right are Serenity (top) and Tranquility (bottom). The latter is where the first moon landing took place in July 1969 (Apollo 11).

 A moon that's 8.2 days old shows a wide assortment of craters along the terminator. Hanging in a clear, jet black sky, the moon never fails to fascinate me. How lucky we are to have a moon! I watch its shadow creep across my bedroom walls many nights and I am happiest when I can see it.

 At 9.2 days, the moon shows its best face. I love to watch the craters at the lower left become visible and then begin to fade again as they are lit head-on when the moon is full. Unlike lovers, a full moon isn't of much interest to photographers; it's too flat and featureless.

 And a 12.2 day old moon is close enough to full that I begin to lose some interest. Only Tycho, the prominent crater at the bottom with the "rays" extending northward, shows much relief.
 Last night (10/21) I watched the sun set and the moon rise at the same time, proof of the moon being full. It's like a teeter totter. The sun presses down on the western side and the moon pops up on the east. It was a brilliantly clear night and the moon seemed a floodlight across my bed. A neighbor's dog loves the full moon and never ceases to celebrate it with his howls.
 Follow this link for a wonderful atlas of the moon.