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Taking Pictures of the Moon and Lunar Eclipses

Lunar Eclipses and Full Moons are beautiful to the naked eye, but tricky to catch with a camera. But with some knowledge and the right equipment those memories can be captured.

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

Lunar Eclipse or Moon Phase

  • Check the weather! A cloudy sky will cover your Moon, though a few clouds may make for 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 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 when the colors of the sky are rich, the surroundings are visible and the Sun is rising.

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.

DSLR, Zoom, Tripod and Timer

Most mobile cameras also don't have a very powerful zoom. A zoom of 200mm 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 and ISO

  • Use a low ISO-setting of 100 or 200.
  • Underexpose rather than overexpose the moon. The Full Moon is bright and an aperture of at least f. 11 is recommended, letting in less light.
  • During a Lunar Eclipse there is less light, and though a small apperture is good for capturing the details on the Moon you will have to let more light in with a smaller 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.

Topics: Astronomy, Moon

Next eclipse begins in

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Partial Solar Eclipse

Sep 13, 2015 at 4:40 AM UTCSee more


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Sun & Moon Photo tips

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

All About Lunar Eclipses

  1. Types of Solar and Lunar Eclipses
  2. Total Lunar Eclipses
  3. Red Moon: Lunar Eclipse
  4. Partial Lunar Eclipses
  5. Penumbral Lunar Eclipses
  6. How to View a Lunar Eclipse
  7. Blood Moon - Total Lunar Eclipse

Eclipse Calculator w/ Animation

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