How to Photograph the Moon

moon2The best way to capture the beauty of our natural satellite is to photograph it. Various imaging techniques reveal a different amount of detail of the lunar surface, and each of which could produce astonishing results.

The Moon phases can provide you with quite a lot of material. You could take pictures each day (or every other day) and see how the Moon changes. You could also zoom in, and take a photo of several craters along the terminator (the “line” that separates the illuminated from the dark part of the Moon). Some interesting things could happen in these areas. Look at the picture on the right. The terminator splits the big crater near the top of the image. Part of its left wall is lit up, as though defying the darkness.

The next Moon photography is taken in a day or so difference from the one above. I had also applied larger eyepiece magnification, as you can see from the limited filed of view. This image is taken with a film camera and scanned from a photo. Unfortunately for me, all my negatives are on the wrong side of the Atlantic, and I can’t currently re-scan them with a superior quality.

Pictures of craters along the terminator have higher contrast than those taken of the same craters during or near full moon. Since the Sun is casting light down at a small angle to the Moon’s surface, the shadows that are created this way can also make the craters look more three-dimensional and “pop up” in your images.

Lenses/Telescopes for photographing the Moon

moon_zoomThe focal length of the lens and/or telescope you use will determine the size of the Moon in your camera. Since the Moon has the same angular size as the Sun, everything about choosing the proper, for your needs, focal length applies here. So, instead of repeating myself, I’ll let you visit my How to photograph the Sun┬ápost for more details. There you’ll see an example of how the Sun/Moon will look like with different lenses/telescopes and in different cameras. I’ve given a simple formula that you can use to calculate the absolute size of the Sun/Moon in your camera’s focal plane.

To photograph the Moon you could also try different filters if you have such. Based on the density of the filters you are going to use, you will have to play the exposure time. There are specialized Moon filters that would increase the contrast and enhance the details of your photos.

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