Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Tutorial on Moon Photography Planning

Moon in lunar eclipse, perched on San Francisco's Transamerica Building
Tonight I'll be broadcasting a live tutorial on how to determine exactly where to stand to place the moon on top of a natural or man-made landmark.  Here's a link to the event if you'd like to join us: http://goo.gl/DSXu8Z

In this example, I predicted where to catch the full moon during a lunar eclipse so its path would pass the tip of the Transamerica Building in San Francisco.  Using eclipse predictions, lunar elevation angle and compass direction, I used the height of the tower to predict how far away I'd need to stand and in what compass direction.  I mapped that point on Google Earth, showed up a little early to start shooting hundreds of photos to created the time-lapse sequence, and it turned out that I pretty much nailed it!  The center of the moon passed right across the tip of the tower.

New tools make this sort of planning easier than ever! We'll be demonstrating the PhotoPills app.  If you'd like to purchase the app to follow along on your smartphone as we show the features, follow this link to buy it: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photopills/id596026805?mt=8&uo=4&at=10ldnC

Here's a time-lapse video I created of the moon as it approached and passed the Transamerica Building:

This video was featured on Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy blog on Discover Magazine:
Lunar eclipse time lapse : Bad Astronomy
Moon Over Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

Update August 2014: Thanks to the +Royal Observatory Greenwich in London for including my moon rise image in your video about the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2104 competition!

Read my 2012 blog post about my pursuit of this image:
Moon Rise over Half Dome in Yosemite

See my notes below for tutorial blog posts and a copy of the demonstration/tutorial video described in this post.  Here's the Royal Observatory's new video on the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition:

Here are some of my lunar photography and astronomical alignment examples for you to enjoy:

Moon Rise Between Half Dome and El CapitanEclipse Moon Set Under Belt of VenusMoon Rise Behind Half DomeVane AttemptSunrise Sunspot ViewJoin Me In Yosemite This November
Mono Lake Sunset Moon Rise SaturdaySunset Full Moon Rise over Mono LakeLunar Eclipse, Landing on the Transamerica PyramidMono Lake Sunset DreamFull Moon over Bay BridgeMono Lake Moonrise (Re-edit)
Crescent Moon Setting Behind Auburn CourthouseSolar Rainbow in Yosemite ValleyTree and MoonSouthern California SunsetBorrego Badlands MoonriseYosemite Moonrise
Monitor Pass Sunset Sun RaysMoonrise by Half DomeDawn Full Moon Set in AuburnMorro Rock MoonsetSunset at Pfeiffer RockHappy Thanksgiving!
Moon and Sun, a set on Flickr.

I've been teaching people for years how to pursue lunar photography.  I wrote a blog post back in 2006 on anticipating shots like these: 

     Plan Ahead for Great Full Moon Rise and Set Shots!

That planning got even easier with the creation of apps like +The Photographer's Ephemeris (TPE), as I describe in this 2011 update blog post:
     Put Sunset Full Moon Rise Dates on Your Calendar

These days in addition to +The Photographer's Ephemeris I also use +PhotoPills, StarWalk and Sky Safari+ to plan my shots:
Here's our recorded broadcast of the +Landscape Photography Show, when the developers of the PhotoPills app were kind enough to join me to provide a tutorial demonstration for their software:


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