How to Photograph a Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse

September 26, 2015 - photo frame

With a appearance of digital cameras, photographing lunar eclipses has never been easier or easier. Here are some tips on how to constraint your possess commemoration portraits of one of nature’s many colorful and photogenic astronomical spectacles.

If you’ve never available a lunar eclipse, you’ll get a possibility this Sunday (Sept. 27), when a full moon gets totally eclipsed by a Earth’s dim shade core, or umbra. It will be a so-called “supermoon” sum lunar eclipse given a moon will be during perigee, a closest indicate to Earth in a orbit.

To find out if you’ll be means to see a eclipse, check out’s skywatching guide. Then use a following tips to sketch this extraordinary lunar event. [How to Photograph a Total Lunar Eclipse (Photo Guide)]

You will also be means to watch a lunar obscure live online. The online Slooh Community Observatory will horde a webcast during 8 p.m. EDT (midnight GMT) on Sunday. You can also watch a lunar obscure webcast on, pleasantness of Slooh.

Get a telescope or telephoto lens

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To get thespian close-up views of a eclipsed moon, you’ll need a telescope or telephoto lens with a focal length between 500 and 2,000 millimeters. A 300-mm lens or range will produce a lunar design that’s usually 3 mm across, usually hardly vast adequate to uncover aspect details. You can boost a lens or scope’s effective focal length by adding a 2× teleconverter or Barlow lens, respectively.

A telescope with a focal length of 2,000 mm produces a lunar design about 18 mm in diameter, that scarcely fills a sensor of a full-frame, 35-mm-format digital single-lens automatic (DSLR) camera. But for many consumer DSLRs that use smaller APS-C sensors, this design distance is going to be a bit too large, with a edges of a moon removing cropped in a camera frame. To pill this, use a focal reducer to make a lunar design fit within a frame, or switch to a telescope with shorter focal length, say, 1,200 mm.

Visibility of Sept. 27, 2015, Lunar Eclipse

Use a tripod

Diagrams explain how eclipses work.

Be certain to mountain a telescope or telephoto lens on a stout tripod for fortitude and to minimize camera shake, that will fuzz a images. You can revoke vibrations even serve by locking a DSLR’s viewfinder counterpart adult and regulating an electronic “cable release” to work a shiver button. A good choice would be to use a camera’s built-in check timer to open a shutter.

Carefully concentration your telescope/camera multiple to obtain pointy images of a moon. Many DSLR cameras now offer “live view” mode, that allows we to see what a camera sensor sees, regulating a built-in LCD screen. You can wizz in on a design adult to 10× magnification to check a focus. 

Use digital, examination with exposure

The biggest advantage of digital cameras over film for sharpened a obscure is that we get present results. You can see what a design accurately looks like by reviewing it on a camera’s LCD screen. Does a design demeanour overexposed or out of focus? Not a large deal. Simply adjust a shiver speed or refocus a telescope and try again. Memory cards are now dirt-cheap, so it costs most zero to take dozens or even hundreds of photos of a arriving singular event.

Nobody knows for certain how bright, or how dark, a moon is going to be during assemblage given it varies significantly from one obscure to a next. So a best recommendation would be to “bracket” your exposures, that is, fire as many images as we can regulating several bearing settings. Don’t be fearful to examination to find a best multiple of aperture, shiver speed and ISO attraction for your sold setup.

Remember, a obscure will start with a dazzlingly splendid full moon. The moon afterwards dramatically dims as a obscure progresses, appearing dimmest around mid-totality. Afterward, it gradually regains a brightness, and a moon becomes full again as a obscure ends. By holding lots of pictures, you’ll boost your chances of throwing some unequivocally good shots. You can also arrange a array of images to emanate an animation of a eclipse.

During totality, keep your exposures as brief as probable by boosting a camera’s ISO environment to 400, or even higher. This will forestall a design from staining due to Earth’s rotation, generally if we are regulating a bound tripod. To extend your bearing time to a few seconds and constraint a abounding red and orange hues of totality, use a motor-driven, polar-aligned equatorial mountain to accurately lane a moon as it moves opposite a sky. [Total Lunar Eclipse of Sept. 27: A Complete Skywatching Guide]

Afocal Projection

Shooting a obscure with a smartphones

With a span of binoculars or a tiny telescope, many fantastic facilities can be speckled on a moon.

Today’s latest era of smartphone cameras are able of holding overwhelming photos of a moon. However, given we can’t mislay or reinstate a lens of smartphone cameras, you’ll have to use a supposed “afocal projection” process to fire a eclipse. It sounds intimidating, yet it’s unequivocally not. It simply means we have to aim a phone camera directly into a telescope eyepiece to take a shot. One advantage of afocal photography is that a telescope will severely boost a effective focal length of a setup so we can constraint decent-sized images of a moon even with a smartphone.

Holding a smartphone by palm is a simplest, yet not indispensably a easiest way, to aim a camera. The biggest plea is to reason a phone and try to keep it as solid as we core a moon in a camera frame, concentration on a lunar aspect and press a shiver button. Since a moon drifts usually opposite a telescope’s margin of perspective when you’re regulating a still tripod, we usually have a half notation or so to take a bearing before you’ll need to re-adjust a telescope and camera to keep a moon aligned with a eyepiece and camera lens.

For best results, squeeze a blurb joint or adapter from camera retailers or sporting products stores that sell optics and accessories for sport or birding (bird-watching enthusiasts call afocal photography “digiscoping”). Alternatively, do-it-yourselfers can make their possess tradition mounts. Whatever your choice, make certain a joint or adapter will fit your eyepiece and will reason a smartphone securely. Be certain to concentration a telescope visually initial before ascent a camera. If we see vignetting, or extinguishing around a corner of a image, that means a camera is positioned too distant from a eyepiece. To revoke vignetting, pierce a camera as tighten to a eyepiece as probable while gripping it centered.

Zooming in can also assistance discharge vignetting and boost a design size. But don’t overdo a wizz duty — smartphones generally use “digital zoom” to simply increase a camera’s design elements, or pixels, yet doesn’t urge a image’s resolution. You can use a phone camera’s autofocus and auto-exposure modes to take a images, or if we prefer, we can adjust a settings to some grade yourself (check a camera primer on how to do this). There are also third-party camera apps we can squeeze that will let we control a bearing and revise a photos.

Finally, make certain a smartphone is entirely charged given we will be regulating a LCD shade all a time. Cold temperatures will also means a battery to remove a assign quickly.

Since a images are stored in your smartphone, we can email, content or share them around amicable media right away.

Parting shot

The pivotal to imaging a sum lunar obscure is to keep on shooting. If we don’t like what we get, make a required corrections or adjustments and fire again. Unlike a sum obscure of a sun, in that assemblage lasts usually a few minutes, or seconds, during this Sunday’s sum lunar obscure a moon will be enthralled in a Earth’s shade for some-more than an hour, so we can usually keep on perplexing until we constraint a “keeper.”

Most important, take a few moments in between exposures to suffer a obscure with your exposed eye or by binoculars. No print or video can review with a genuine thing, so try to suffer it visually, too.

Good fitness and transparent skies!

Editor’s note: If we constraint an extraordinary perspective of Sunday night’s sum lunar obscure that you’d like to share for a arriving mainstay or design gallery, send a images to handling editor Tariq Malik at

Veteran astrophotographers Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre have celebrated some-more than a dozen lunar eclipses together given their really initial one — a penumbral obscure on Jul 27, 1980 — that they noticed from a Philippines. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original essay on

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