What a sight … the full moon coupled up with Jupiter on the night of February 3-4, 2015.
EarthSky Facebook friend Duke Marsh caught the February 3 moon and Jupiter from New Albany, Indiana. Our friend Jacob Zimmer posted this photo of the moon and Jupiter on February 3, over Louisville, Kentucky. One of our favorite sky photographers, Tom Wildoner, tried out his new fisheye lens on the February 3 moon and Jupiter.
Hector Barrios in Hermosillo, Mexico submitted this photo of the moon and Jupiter on February 3, 2015.
Jupiter and full moon in a ring of light, otherwise known as a lunar halo, February 3, 2015. Bottom line: Did you see dazzling planet Jupiter near the full moon on the night of February 3-4, 2015?
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's High-Gain Antenna stretches out toward the camera in this photo, taken in a clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. During the LRO Commissioning Phase, the high-resolution Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) captured this 1-m pixel scale (angular resolution) two-image mosaic of the lunar south pole, which is located on the rim of the 19-km diameter Shackleton crater. Over the past year the Japanese Kaguya and Indian Chandrayaan spacecraft gave us our first high-resolution look at the lunar south pole and Shackleton crater and revealed an exceptionally deep and rugged interior for its size.
The full NAC mosaic reveals a shelf on the southeast flank of the crater that is more than two kilometers across and perfectly suitable for a future landing.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera was built by Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, California, and is operated from the LROC Science Operations Center, part of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. As the sun disappears behind the horizon, it’s far from the end of a day when it comes to taking pictures. Outside of urban areas and away from light pollution, moonlight provides what can be a surprisingly bright light source that enables moody pictures. In this article on photography under moonlight, I’ll cover when is best to shoot, understanding the light source, key camera settings, and give some ideas on what subjects to shoot.
Although moonlight is nowhere near as strong as sunlight, a night sky can be rather bright. Moon phase: Unlike sunlight, the brightness of moonlight varies greatly, depending on the moon phase. A clear night with full moon will allow you to reduce the exposure time and still achieve bright images, which should increase image quality – more on this later. Of course all image-making is down to personal taste, but I prefer the images I get under moonlight on these brighter nights, rather than the low contrast light when the moon is less full. If you’re out during a clear winter night when the moon is full, chances are it’ll be very cold.
Be sure to pack a lens cloth and to make regular checks of your lens, wiping off any condensation using a circular motion.
When shooting under moonlight, there are many identical principles to shooting in daylight, especially with regards to the positioning of the light source. For example, it’s no good setting out to shoot a castle illuminated by moonlight at 9PM on a winter’s night if the moon is behind the castle. It may be that come 2AM that same night, the change of the moon’s position means the castle is now illuminated. Of course the brightness of the moon is not only affected by the moon phase but also the time of night. The moon during the blue hour of moonrise and moonset is low in the sky and more side-on to the landscape (like the golden hour at sunrise or sunset), which results in longer shadows.  Also, the ambient light is brighter during the blue hour than the middle of the night, which means that your exposure time need not be as long. A great resource to check out is The Photographer’s Ephemeris which indicates the direction of moonlight at any given location, time and (future) day. Get the camera settings right and it’s possible to take punchy pictures that are brighter than the human eye is capable of perceiving.


A bright exposure is best, so check your histogram, which can be displayed on the LCD screen of digital cameras pre- and post-capture. If the exposure of a night picture is dark, brightening it post-capture will reveal plenty of unwanted shadow noise. If you want the stars in the sky to appear sharp, that is with no ‘trail’, then the exposure time is restricted and you’ll need to adjust aperture and ISO accordingly. If you can’t see that focusing is sharp pre-shot, activate your camera’s live view (if you have it) and use focus magnification to zoom right into the subject, where checking focus is much easier. If all else fails, use the focus distance marker on the lens barrel (or rear LCD screen in some cameras) as a guide.
Like daylight landscape photography, the options for shooting by moonlight are numerous and similar principles apply. If the forecast is for several hours of clear sky, try a timelapse over a few hours to show the movement of shadows throughout the night. As for subjects, light-coloured concrete can appear rather bright during a full moon, so look out for interesting buildings such as churches, castles, ruins and beach promenades. Timothy Coleman is a photographer, writer and former deputy technical editor of Amateur Photographer magazine. Registered Office: 13 Frensham Road, Sweet Briar Industrial Estate, Norwich, Norfolk, NR3 2BT. Warehouse Express Limited acts as a credit intermediary offering credit products from a panel of one lender.
The vehicle was "open loop" -- navigating autonomously without the command of the onboard camera and flying on a preprogrammed flight profile. Thank you to all the EarthSky friends from around the world who shared photos with our community.
A thin veil of high thin cirrus clouds resulted in a beautiful ring-around-the-moon with Jupiter just above the moon. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. A fish-eye view of the surrounding nighttime landscape at the Automated Lunar and Meteor Observatory can also be seen. At meter scales features such as boulders and ridges can be mapped, paving the way for future explorers. Usually craters fill in with time as their walls slump and material from afar is thrown in by distant impacts. The extreme Sun angle gives the surface an exaggerated rough appearance, but if you look closely at this scale any area that is between the small craters might make a good landing site.
In fact, many photographers favour nighttime for their image-making, and after experiencing shooting in the night it’s easy to see why – creating ‘moonscapes’ (also referred to as ‘nightscapes’) using moonlight is addictive. During the long winter nights it’s natural for a photographer to make the most of the light at night – after all there may be no daylight at all outside of one’s work hours – but of course it’s possible to shoot under moonlight during the summer too.
The brightness of the night sky depends on two main factors – the weather and the moon phase (also known as lunar cycle).
Nights when the moon is at its fullest are the brightest (cloud dependent), while nights around the ‘new moon’ are the darkest. There are websites and handy smartphone apps that indicate the moon phase by day, month and year. The brighter light conditions of the nights around a full moon result in images with greater contrast than when the moon is less full. When working under freezing conditions, it’s important to keep checking that condensation has not formed on the front of your lens, or else the clarity and contrast of your pictures will be dramatically compromised.
Should any of your pictures been taken with a ‘frosty’ lens, try increasing the contrast, clarity and vibrance in post-production to reintroduce some dynamism to these pictures.
Just as with sunlight, it’s wise to know the position of moon in relation to your subjects and the landscape, so that you understand the impact moonlight will have.


During moonset and moonrise, the moon is less bright against the ambient light than in the middle of the night. The desktop software is available as a free download, and the app can be purchased from iOS and Android app stores.
The required shutter speed and aperture will of course be affected by the ambient light – during a full moon on a clear night the shutter speed can be much quicker than during another part of the moon phase, such as the first or last quarter. You’re looking for the curve in the graph to be on the right without going beyond the right side.
The formula used to calculate the maximum possible shutter speed that maintains sharp stars is 500?focal length. Illuminating the desired focus area using bright torchlight helps no end, so be sure to pack a good torch in your camera bag. Generally the best white balance setting to use is the tungsten WB setting (also known as ‘incandescent’), because it keeps the cool night colours. Ideally, prior to going out to a location in the night you should have already visited it in the daytime and surveyed the landscape. All such subjects should be in places where there’s little light pollution – meaning non-urban areas.
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity recorded this view of the crater during the 2,417th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars (Nov. Right now we know little of the poles and much is to be learned from the data now being returned from LRO. Since Shackleton crater is so deep and rough inside scientists might infer it is relatively young.
The NAC can see details with ten times greater resolution than previous datasets allowing lunar geologists to map features at a human scale. It happens to every photographer, myself included – I’ve had what would have been a punchy moonscape end up looking soft and flat on account of condensation.
This sort of research will result in wise choices of the best time to go, and the right location.
This indicates a bright exposure with highlight detail preserved – also known as ‘exposing to the right’.
Interestingly, you can ‘cheat’ and recreate a similar effect of moonlight photos by using the tungsten white balance setting in daylight. The rim of Shackleton crater is a prime candidate for future human exploration due to its proximity to permanently shadowed regions and nearby peaks that are illuminated for much of the year. However, much of the rim of Shackleton appears rounded and is peppered with smaller craters a€“ indications of a relatively ancient age.
Observe strong shapes and the consequent shadows cast by the light – shadows are really effective in a moonscape. The permanent shadow may harbor cold-trapped volatiles deposited as comets and asteroids impacted the Moon over the past billion years or more. Where can they find resources, and where can they sample a diversity of geologic materials? Highly illuminated peaks provide opportunities for solar power during most of the year for future human habitation.
Many more LROC Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) images of this area will be obtained over the coming months as the south pole emerges from the shadows of winter and a more complete picture will appear.
Over the coming months the whole area will be characterized in detail by all of the LRO instruments, and scientists will have the data to investigate these questions and more. Apollo 12's lunar module Intrepid carried astronauts Alan Bean and Pete Conrad to the surface of Earth's moon while crewmate Dick Gordon orbited overhead in the mission's command and service module, Yankee Clipper.



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