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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. However, with some knowledge and the right equipment, those images can easily be caught.

Full moon setting over Jobs Peak, Carson Valley, Nevada.

Moon setting over Jobs Peak, Nevada.

A bright full Moon can be tricky to capture using a camera.

©iStockphoto.com/Jason Woodcock

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Lunar Eclipse or Moon Phase

  • 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.

With Animations: List of All Eclipses 1900-2099

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.

Mobile Camera?

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.

DSLR, Zoom, Tripod and Timer

Most mobile cameras also don't have a very powerful zoom. A DSLR or another good camera with a zoom of 200 mm or above is needed to make the Moon the focal point of the image and to capture the surface details.

  • 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 all night! 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.

Topics: Astronomy, Moon

Next eclipse begins in


Annular Solar Eclipse

Sep 1, 2016 at 6:13 AM UTCSee more


Lunar Eclipses

  1. Total Lunar Eclipse
  2. When is the Moon Red?
  3. Partial Lunar Eclipse
  4. Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
  5. Can I See a Lunar Eclipse?
  6. Blood Moon - Total Lunar Eclipse
  7. Magnitude of Eclipses

Eclipse Calculator w/ Animation

Sunrise & Sunset Times

Moon Phases In Your City

Moonrise & Moonset Times

Weather Look-Up

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