Harvest Moon Rising

Last week I urged readers to go outside and enjoy the September 9th Harvest Moon. In celebration of Tsukimi, here in Arizona, that’s what I did. And despite our ongoing monsoon season, I caught a break and managed to get some nice photos between the clouds. Peruse the slideshow and watch the Moon rise over Gavilan Peak. That mountain is just east of me, and it delayed moonrise by a little over an hour.

Details for photographers:

  • Used a Canon EOS 20D with a 200 mm Zuiko telephoto, no tripod, 1/20 second exposures throughout.
  • The first slide was shot at f/4 using ISO 3200 (hence the noise level), thereafter using ISO 400.
  • Slides 2-6 were at f/11, images 7-9 at f/32.

Virtually all my astrophotos are shot on full manual. Given the no-tripod setup, I used 1/20 second for my shutter speed to avoid blurring from camera motion. Beyond that, I juggled the ISO and f-ratio to try to get the best combination of clouds and Moon visibility. I did a lot of bracketing … close to a hundred photos total, and narrowed them down to the best 9 for the slideshow above.

That last slide of the Full Harvest Moon was taken well after it cleared the mountain. Some of the lunar maria are visible, but foreground clouds added their own ephemeral features. For comparison, the thumbnail below shows a Full Moon rising over that same mountain on a cloudless night. Click to enlarge:

Note the sharper details on the lunar surface in the thumbnail. The Moon’s distinctive orange tint in that image, and in the last slide, is quite common at moonrise. For more on that, see my July 16, 2012 post.

The rising Moon appears as a washed-out solid-white disc because of my exposure settings. In order to make the clouds visible and silhouette the mountain, I had to overexpose the Moon. It was an aesthetic compromise that worked well, imho. And, in the spirit of Tsukimi, it offers more art than science.

Next Week in Sky Lights ⇒ To See the Southern Cross

Harvest Moon on September 9
Q&A: To See the Southern Cross

2 comments on “Harvest Moon Rising”

    1. All 9 images are there when I view the post. Did you realize this is a “slideshow” where you need to click the arrows on the left and right edges of the display window to advance or regress the series of slides? If not, you are forgiven, as this is the first time I’ve used a slideshow in Sky Lights.

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