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The Moon - Being Creative with our Bright Satellite

Updated: Jun 5, 2023


In addition to light pollution, clouds, and winds, the Moon is also one of our worst enemies. We do not like the Moon because it is up in the sky for half of every month, meaning that we can only image Deep Sky Objects, what we care the most about, half of the year.


The difference between the Moon and our other enemies listed above is that we can create something out of it. This post will be updated over time with ideas we came up with to make the best out of our bright Satellite.


I - Phases of the Moon Panorama over Las Vegas

Featured on UniverseToday's Instagram on 08/2016.


A 3-month long project.

At the time, all I had was a pair of binoculars, a tripod, and a point-and-shoot camera.


During this project, there were days the clouds were hiding the moon and I had to wait a full month to photograph a certain phase.


About half of those moon shots were taken by taking hundreds of pictures with that cheap camera, through the binoculars. The rest was taken with a DSLR Camera (t3i) with a 300mm lens on a tripod. 

Once all the Moons I wanted were captured, I spent hours placing them on a grid so that they would all be the same distance from each other. That was trickier than it sounds because there is a difference between placing a full moon and placing a small croissant of a moon.


The last step was to find the perfect fore/background. I had no idea what I wanted until I was driving home from our usual imaging spot in the desert and realized that the view of Las Vegas from far is perfect!


My wife, her friend Rosa, and I, stopped by the side of the freeway, which felt dangerous with cars and trucks passing by so fast, so that I could try to take the perfect photo as fast as possible.

I mounted the t3i on a tripod, took a couple of shots super quick, hoping the focus was good, and we left.


Then this panorama was born.


 

II - Mapping all the manned Apollo Landings


When filming Episode 7 of Galactic Hunter, which is about the Moon, we used maps of all the Apollo Landings found online to help us write a part of the Episode. There are several similar maps already done, even NASA has one, but we wanted to make our own.


The photo of the Moon was taken during the filming of the Episode. The photos of each Apollo mission were taken during, well, the missions, by the astronauts themselves.

I wanted to make the final image beautiful to look at, clear, and with the name of the Mission, the insignia, the date, and the landing zone included, without making a mess! After a few trials & errors, this is what the result looks like. We hope it will help people over time!


 

III - Moon Halo over the Seven Magic Mountains, Nevada

Featured on UniverseToday's Instagram on 11/17/2017.



On Christmas Eve, 2016, I stepped outside and saw this pretty rare Moon halo. I took a picture of it and left the file on my computer, not knowing what to do with it.


Fast forward several months later, Dalia & I decide to go visit the Seven Magic Mountains, a 30 minutes drive from Las Vegas. The photo was cool but, it wasn't very impressive to look at. I randomly stumbled upon the Moon Halo picture while recording an off-series episode on Galactic Hunter, and thought it would be the perfect fit for this piece of art.


I was really pleased with the result, those painted rocks, sitting in the desert, illuminated by a full Moon and its rare halo, give it a very mystical effect.

You can see this photo in better quality HERE.


 

IV - Moonrise over the Grand Canyon


Our moon, rising above the cold and dark Grand Canyon South Rim.




 

V - The "Moon Nebula"


T'was a cloudy night, a bright full moon, and a thirst to do astrophotography. This is the full moon reflecting light against the surrounding clouds. Two shots were taken for this, one very short exposure to get all the details in the moon itself (but the clouds were barely visible) and a slightly longer one to capture the clouds.


We call it "Moon Nebula" because it kind of looks like the clouds are blue gases, and reminds us of the Iris Nebula.


Moon with blue clouds


 

VI - The Moon overwhelmed by Fireworks

July 4th, 2020, Las Vegas


The 4th of July in Las Vegas is.... pretty bright and loud. From our backyard, we could see fireworks exploding in all directions, including where the rising moon was!


With our tripod, Canon 7D Mark II and Canon EF 55-250mm lens, I took a picture of the moon and realized that none of the fireworks were visible because of the fast exposure time. I quickly changed my exposure time to something a little longer and also made the aperture wide open (f/5.6 at 250mm) then quickly took a second image. This one showed the fireworks but the moon was all blown out.


Using Photoshop, I simply overlapped both layered into one and the result is visible on the image below! Pretty cool no?


The moon and fireworks 4th of july

 

VII - A Close-up on the Moon with a planetary camera

September 4th, 2020, Las Vegas


We have been doing Astrophotography for more than 5 years now, and we have never attempted to capture the moon with an astronomy-dedicated camera before!

Using our 8" Astrograph and the QHY462C planetary camera, we spent a night in the backyard randomly shooting the moon to see what kind of result we could get.

This was our very first time using a planetary camera, meaning it was also our first time processing planetary data!

Below is the result of that very first try. This is what the moon looks like, uncropped, with this telescope and camera combo.


The Moon with a planetary camera

Make sure to watch our video on YouTube to see how we imaged the moon, as well as Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter!




 

VIII - First Attempt at the Moon in HDR

January 9, 2022, Las Vegas


We have never tried taking a picture of the moon in HDR before, and there is a first time for everything!

We used our Canon Ra on our small refractor telescope to take two pictures of the moon:

One very short exposure one for the illuminated half of the moon

One longer exposure to completely blow out the illuminated half but give us a visible dark side


The Moon in HDR with a Canon Ra camera and small telescope

It was not easy to combine since we rarely use Photoshop and... rarely image the moon, but it turned out okay!


 

Simply the Moon




All the phases of the Moon





Galactic Hunter Ep#7: The Moon: Viewing and Imaging our natural satellite



Clear Skies,

Galactic Hunter





 


Galactic Hunter Astrophotography books

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