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Taking Pictures of the Moon

With the right equipment, a little time and planning, you can take great pictures of the Moon.

Full moon setting over Jobs Peak, Carson Valley, Nevada.
Moon setting over Jobs Peak, Nevada.
©iStockphoto.com/Jason Woodcock

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 when the colors of the sky are rich, the surroundings are visible and the sun is rising.

October 8, 2014: Total Lunar Eclipse

Moon Phases or Full Moon?

  • Check the weather! A cloudy sky will cover your moon, though a few clouds may give for an intersting scene.
  • The full Moon is very bright. Good, clear Moon pictures are easier to achieve at the lesser Moon phases.
  • Mobile Camera or DSLR?

    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.

    Zoom, Tripod and Timer

    Most mobile cameras also don't have a very powerful zoom. A zoom of 200mm and above is needed to make to 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 during 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 & ISO

    • The moon is bright, so use a low ISO-setting of 100 or 200.
    • Underexpose rather that overexpose the moon. The moon is bright and an apperture of at least 11 is reccomended, letting in less light.
    • In low light situations the shutter speed may have to go down.
    • Use the viewfinder. It makes it easier to see your composition and settings.
    • A foreground subject, like for instance the moon over a city or landscape, might make the image more interesting.
    • Allow yourself enough preparation time.
    • Keep shooting! Play around with different exposures and apertures.

    Topics: Astronomy, Moon

In this Article


Sun & Moon Photo tips

  1. Taking pictures of the Sun
  2. Taking pictures of the Moon

Sunrise & Sunset times

Moon Phases in your city

Moonrise & Moonset times

Weather lookup

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