Moon & Sun Events

I do not profess to know a lot about the moon, the sun and the stars. But, my wife and I have had fun chasing after these marvels of life. It is a little game we call, "Where will be when the ball drops?". Whether we are in Beaumont, Tx or Yosemite, CA, the challenge is: Learning when celestial events will rise and set are important to be able to include these valuable assets as centers of interest. The juxtaposition of the moon is an extra valuable addition because of our fascination with the moon. Combined with the visual phenomena of the sun and moon appearing larger at sun rise and set is particularly interesting.


In addition to the usual phenomenon of all things of the Earth and Sky, one particularly interesting detail is the length of day and the impact on your life, as well as photo opportunities. Another interesting aspect of particularly Lunar Photography is the degree of difficulty as a result of weather conditions. IOW, you might be waiting for the perfect full or new moon night, and it is cloudy, windy, too

hot or cold, or it is a Wednesday instead of a Friday night. (it does make a difference).


Basically, there are several interesting considerations surrounding the Sun and Moon.


See Locations for tips for places to shoot some of these events. And general info about Sun and Moon events:


Tracking the Solar and Lunar Events:

The iOS (and Android) is especially useful as a mobile Solar Tracker. There are MANY apps which are useful. One that I have chosen to invest in is LightTrac that shows you the impact of the sun and moon to you on the ground. Another is Star Walk that shows you everything above you.


If you are on a computer, here is a good site to review stuff like this:  Or, for JUST the moon: Notice the references to the event for a specific night: Here is a sample of what you might see "Harvest Moon – which occurred last month on September 11/12 – the Hunter’s Moon is characterized by rising at or near sunset for several evenings in a row. Watch for it near the eastern horizon at dusk on these autumn evenings this week." They will also have an explanation of why this full moon is the smallest of the year...12% smaller than the largest of the year 7 lunar months ago. is good for a quick way to plug in your exact sky. Got an iPod/iPhone...try LightTrac. Kind of expensive at $4.99...but a very neat program to determine when and where the sun/moon is going to rise in relation to objects. A cheaper option is LightTracker at $0.99


Here are some screen shots from those some iPhone Apps.


Sky Walk - First with an info slide, then a live view of the app to find objects using the built-in compass.




Light Trac. I have included three slides to illustrate the change in Moonrise over three days, with 10/12/11 being officially full, however, it will appear fullest tonight. 5:56 to 6:27 to 7:01. The neat part about the moon rise on the full moon night is that the sky is still bright because the sun hasn't set, but no so bright that you can get some great pictures of the moon rising before the sky becomes to dark. But, more importantly, this program has been instrumental in determining exactly where on the ground I need to be for an object (sun, moon, north star, etc.) is going to appear.




Couple of other programs. Left showing the light moving across the sky in the morning. The other showing the visibility of objects for any given day.



Full Moon Event

Question is...where will you be when the ball drops? And how will you take advantage of it? The moon is normally difficult to shoot because it is so bright...surrounded by such darkness making an exposure difficult to determine. Tonight, the sky will be bright enough to get a normal exposure. The picture above is 1/500 @ 3.5 @ ISO 250 on 10/25/07. The one below is 1/800s @ f/9.0 @ ISO 400 (270mm).




Full Moon Moonscapes - there are other things to do with a bright full moon. One, it is very bright. Two, it is up high in the sky at a reasonable time of night. Like 9:00 pm. Perfect for night time pictures.


Nighttime pictures under full moon from Todd Hargis:

Here are two shots Todd did in the past with the moonlight. The first is of his friend Ron, (30 second exposure ISO 1600 f/1.4) The next image is of the two of us (ISO 200 five minute exp. At f/4).




Depending on the moon, we sometimes attempt Moon Shooting at Brazos. Sometimes we shoot for STAR pictures because the moon will not rise until after Midnight.


Here is a shot we got a couple of years ago in a Cemetery on a full moon night...notice the stars. EXIF: 30 secs @ 5.6, ISO 1000.


It is too bright to take TRAILING star pictures because the ambient light on the surrounding area and even the light pollution in the sky is too much. Below is a 30 second at 4.5, ISO 640.






Here are some shots I have taken of the sun, the moon and the stars:







Location to shoot: favorite...6x10 minute exposures.