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The May 2012 Supermoon

May 08, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

On May 6th 2012 at 3:34 am the Moon was full; two minutes later the moon was at perigee, its closest point in its orbit around earth. The result was a full moon slightly bigger and brighter than the average fullmoon. This was widely circulated as a "supermoon", the difference in size and brightness is not really that super but if it helps to get people interested in astronomy and the moon then it works for me. In this post I will show some of the photos I took for this event.

On May 4th one day before the event there was a nice conjunction between the Moon, Spica and Saturn. Spica is a mag 1 star and Saturn was at similar brightness. I had a fight against some clouds to take the photo, an early warning of what was coming next.

The Night of the "event" was quite cloudy, but the moon is so bright that it can make thin clouds translucid and display a colorful corona around it. I combined 9 different exposures to produce this HDR photo of the supermoon among the clouds.

When the sky finally cleared I was able to take some portaits of the supermoon without clouds. I stacked several photos and increased saturation to show the colors on the Moon surface. The full moon is usually a difficult target for photos because it has no shadows so it looks very flat. Increasing color is one of the ways to fight against that flatness.

And the next day I went to the coast of the river to photograph moonrise, the clouds were again a problem.

Because of the clouds it was impossible to take a shot at the moon just rising, but once it reached some height it was bright enough to be seen behind the clouds. It looked really big.

With the moon slightly higher I took this shot and I was really surprised by the result. Even with a fullmoon and clouds several stars could be seen in the photo. Above the Moon you can find Zubenelgenubi (alpha Librae) a star that has a reputation for looking greenish and it certainly looked green this time! A little above Zub you will find a nice string of stars like pearls that are part of the constellation Hydra, that's a nice asterism. Several other stars can be see zooming in. Quite a curiosity!

With the moon even higher I witnessed a beautiful scene: The Moon displayed a colorful Corona around it and casted a bright reflection over the river. Trying to show what I could see in a photo was nearly impossible. I had to take three different exposures and combine them to get a result that looked similar to what my eyes could see. I think this shows how well human eyes adapt to different levels of brightness, it was so easy to see "everything" with the naked eye and it was so difficult for the camera to reproduce it.

This year's "supermoon" was a nice show many people got interested and went to different places to see moonrise or the moon itself and hundreads of viewers took their first photos of our natural satellite. At the end I even liked the clouds, we are friends again.

 


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