Taking Pictures of the Moon and Lunar Eclipses
Lunar Eclipses and full Moons are beautiful to the naked eye, but they can be tricky to capture with a camera.
Planning Your Moon Picture
- Check the weather! A cloudy sky may cover the Moon, though a few clouds can make an interesting scene.
- The Full Moon is very bright. Good, clear Moon pictures are easier to achieve at the lesser Moon phases.
- The Moon is less bright during a total lunar eclipse.
The Best Time for Moon Pics
Moonrise and moonset are excellent times to get good Moon shots.
The absolute best time is as the Moon is setting and when the colors of the sky are rich; the Moon is coming up over the horizon and the surroundings are visible; or when the Sun is rising.
The challenge is to capture the details of the Moon's surface. With most mobile cameras, you can't manually set the exposure, which controls the amount of light in the image. Most likely, you will only manage to capture the light from the Moon, and the Moon itself might come out looking like a blurry dot of light in the sky. Most mobile cameras also don't have a very powerful zoom, which you need to capture the surface details of the Moon.
DSLR, Zoom, Tripod and Timer
In order to make the Moon the focal point of the image and to capture the surface details, you'll need a DSLR or another camera with a zoom of 200 mm or above.
- A tripod or another stable surface where you can place your camera is useful to keep it still, especially when using slow shutter speeds.
- A remote shutter or the timer on the camera prevents the camera from moving or shaking as you shoot the picture.
Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO
- Use a low ISO-setting of 100 or 200.
- Underexpose rather than overexpose the moon. The full Moon is bright and is actually moving slightly so a fast shutter speed and a medium aperture of f. 5.6 to 11 should be used.
- During a Lunar Eclipse, there is less light, and although a small aperture is good for capturing the details on the Moon, you will have to let more light in with a lower f. number.
- Use the viewfinder and your timer. It makes it easier to see your settings, and you can avoid camera shake.
- You have time! A Full Moon or a Lunar Eclipse lasts for hours.
- Keep shooting! Play around with different exposures and apertures. You will get that perfect shot.
Next eclipse begins in
Sep 1, 2016 at 6:13 AM UTC … See more
- Total Lunar Eclipse
- When is the Moon Red?
- Partial Lunar Eclipse
- Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
- Can I See a Lunar Eclipse?
- Blood Moon - Total Lunar Eclipse
- Magnitude of Eclipses