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A February Full-ish Moon. February 6, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
Tags: , , ,

I went hunting for a nearly-full-moonrise this evening (the charts all say it’ll happen tomorrow evening, but the skies were expected to be clearer tonight,) and had some success.

I’d gone out yesterday afternoon and taken bearings on the moon at various times, then back-plotted the moonrise and set my compass for tonight’s event.  I wanted to be positioned to catch the moon rising against an interesting horizon, which is always tricky, given that the moon isn’t visible ’till it rises!  That’s not the case with morning moonsets; one can see the moon as it heads for the horizon and get somewhere where the results are predictable.

Anyway, I’d hoped to get the moon rising behind the Mount Toby fire tower in Sunderland, but somehow miscalculated, getting it entirely missing the mountain:

Dang!  Not a bad shot, but so much for my Scientific Method!

Well, with the moon visible it was much less of a crap-shoot to get it breaking the skyline somewhere else, as long as that “somewhere else” had taller hills so the moon would “rise” again.  So I booked it to Shelburne Falls, where the looming bulk of Mount Massamet rose more steeply skyward, and tried again.

Prowling the higher Buckland side, I took a bead on the visible moon:

The palette was entirely different but not at all unpleasant.  So with an eye on the prize, I wound my way down into the village, cruising side-streets to get to somewhere which would let me shoot the moon re-rising behind the Mount Massamet fire tower in the above shot.

With a bit of aggressive driving and a spate of running through peoples’ front yards, I finally got this:

While I’m happy with these shots as blog-fodder, they’re not nearly of printable quality, which has me frustrated beyond words.  I don’t know if Gizmo’s 400mm length just won’t ever cut the mustard, or if I’m doing something wrong here.

I guess more research is in order.


1. Spinny Liberal - February 7, 2012

So beautiful…

2. littlebangtheory - February 7, 2012

Thanks, Grrrl.

3. Bob - February 7, 2012

That last one puts me in mind of the watch towers guarding the Rebel base in Star Wars. 🙂

The moon has been exceedingly bright here the last couple nights, moreso than just the phase explains. Not sure what’s going on, but I’ve enjoyed the results.

And all three are, as mentioned above, beautiful.

4. Geoffrey Day - February 7, 2012

not bad – you might want to have a look at Ansel Adams’ work (if you haven’t already).

Google Moonrise Ansel Adams.

it is all about the seconds.


5. littlebangtheory - February 7, 2012

Cuz, that tower does look formidable, eh?

As for the moon’s apparent brightness, perigee is on the 11th of February, with the moon being about 228,000 miles from us (at apogee on the 27th it will be 23K farther away.) Perhaps the near coincidence of perigee and the full moon plays into it?

Geoffrey, welcome, and thanks for commenting! But… Ansel Who???


6. Pamela Shrimpton - February 7, 2012

These are amazing….being a “moon child” i especially appreciate them (artistically – don’t really follow all that). But all your pictures are over the moon and out of this world.

Forge Hollow Farm
Hawley, MA

7. jomegat - February 7, 2012

This site will tell you the azimuth of the moonrise.
Maybe backplotting with those figures will bring better results.

This site might possibly help too.

8. littlebangtheory - February 7, 2012

Pam, thanks for the kind words. They’ll get better as I suss out the variables.

j, I’ve been to both of those sites, but the photography one is pretty basic, and the “timeanddate” one doesn’t really give me more info on the azimuth of moonrise than I get by observations; I don’t find the altitude at meridian to be helpful for what I’m doing. I’m hunting for a chart of azimuths for moonrise, even if I have to factor in the magnetic declination myself.

Thanks for the feedback, though.

jomegat - February 8, 2012

That site will give you azimuth of moonrise, but not as default. Select it with the “columns” field.

littlebangtheory - February 8, 2012

J, thanks for your patience, but nothing I can do or select has the word “columns” in it, so I don’t know what you mean.

Did I mention that I’m a Luddite? …Oh yes, too many times! 😦

9. Mauigirl - February 8, 2012

Nice moon pix! Took a picture of the moon rising near our cabin in the Adirondacks but had nowhere near your clarity!

10. littlebangtheory - February 8, 2012

MG, thanks. I sharpened them a bit (after spending $1100 too much on a 400mm lens – the top-end model was $1,200 more!)

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