What’s a Perigee?

South Carolina Sky

Without getting too scientific on everyone, an exciting moment is going to happen this weekend – it’s the perigee!  What is the perigee?  It’s the point when the moon and the earth reach their closest point between each other.  The moon is going to look super huge this coming weekend, and this will be a great opportunity to really get some stellar shots of the moon through even the more common focal lengths we all have in our gear bags.  Even with a 70-200 lens and a 1.4 TC, you should be able to get some pretty awesome full frame shots of the moon, with some pretty good detail!

Here’s a couple tips to scheduling a good moon shoot:

1.  Check the weather in your area – It goes without saying that you don’t want a lot of cloud cover, but at the same time, clear skies mean no heat is staying in the atmosphere.  Since it’s still relatively early in the year, standing around at midnight could be a tad chilly.  Plan ahead, dress warmly, and you’ll be able to stay out longer to get the shots you really want without being cold or uncomfortable.

South Carolina Sky

#2.  Location, location, location – In photography, as in real estate, location can mean everything, and a lunar shoot is no exception, even though it’s in the sky.  Depending on the type of view you are looking for, you may want to find some place that gives you a completely unobstructed view of the horizon.  Alternately, you may want to include something “human sized” to give a sense of comparison.

Denver Skyline

#3.  Pick your gear – In astro-photography, you will most likely be shooting at the longest end of your reach, so don’t bother taking the whole kit-n-kaboodle.  Maybe take a variable zoom to stuff in a cargo pocket in case you want a “behind the scenes” kind of shot if going with others, but no more than two lenses are needed.  Don’t forget your tripod and extra batteries, as well as a flashlight.  Other essentials I have on my checklist include my wallet and cell phone.

What stakeouts have you planned in your area?  Taking any friends?  What about your own suggestions and tips for lunar photography?  Sound off in the comments!

The 2010 Winter Solstice Eclipse

Lunar Eclipse

As you may recall from yesterday’s post, I did not get the entire solstice eclipse from beginning to end due to cloud cover.  But, from the halfway point forward, the clouds cleared and I was able to get some adequate coverage.  After wrestling both mentally and processor-ily with the amount of images (98) and trying to figure out a good way to present the series, I decided on the spiral approach…

Lunar Eclipse
Lunar Eclipse

What kinds of shots did you get?  How are you presenting them?  I debated on a video showing the movement across the sky, but that was very labor intensive, so decided on the above.  Thoughts, comments, feedback?  Share your shots too!

About Last Night

Further on and in

The first lunar eclipse to occur on the winter solstice occurred.  It’s the first time it’s happened in 600 years…and apparently won’t happen again for another 400 years.  I had two strokes of luck with this amazing astronomical event:

#1 – the path of the moon tracked almost directly over my house!  Literally!  I took maybe ten steps out my front door, and there it was, beautifully tracking across the sky.

#2 – Let me re-phrase that…beautifully tracking across the cloudy sky. 

At first it was just a few wisps…I started to capture a few shots at 10.  You know, to sort of document the before, during, and after.  But, by 10:30 the wisps were sticky patches of cloud cover.  By 11, even my naked eye could not discern any detail anymore.  It was very disappointing…

So, I put the camera away, began this post and went back out to glance at the sky for a bit before bed.  And as the first yawn escaped my tired body, sure enough, the clouds began to peel away.  At the halfway point, I finally grumbingly ran inside, bundled up, and grabbed the camera/tripod set which were already in place.  I’ve not done much post production on these, but here’s a select few:

Lunar Eclipse - The Start
Lunar Eclipse – The Start

 

Full Eclipse
Full Eclipse

 

Further on and in

Lunar Eclipse Dark
Lunar Eclipse Dark

 

Late Eclipse
Late Eclipse

I am sure others will get wonderful views, and the folks at NASA, Roswell, SETI, and all the others will document it quite nicely for the rest of us. But…it’s just not the same as viewing it in real time.  When all was said and done, I was glad I stayed up to watch it.  Not only did I end up getting some nice shots, but I got to see almost the whole thing before heading off to bed.

What about others?  Did anyone else stay up to watch it?  I’ll bet some pretty cool time lapse productions come out of this!  Share your own thoughts and perspectives in the comments.  Would love to hear from you!  Happy shooting, and I’ll likely have a full set posted tomorrow.