Smartphone Moon Photography

I’ve been doing my fullmoon shots with my camera and 400mm lens on a tripod for some time now.

Then along came Slooh with the #supermoon- challenge which inspired me to go out for a few nights in a row to capture the waxing Moon.

I thought, what if I attach my cellphone to my telescope? This is when the real fun began. I’ve been able to push to a 6mm eyepiece but you have to be really quick if you have no tracker on your scope like me It’s quite tricky.

First I identify the area that I want to shoot – then focus the telescope with cellphone attached. I bought one of those adaptable cellphone holders. A word of caution – cellphones slip easily if you’re not careful. When I’m happy with the adjustment of the cellphone holder and focus is ok, I nudge my telesope so that the area to be shot is just outside of the field of view. As the area moves into view I take shots with a feather light tap on the cellphone screen. Then it’s to my computer to sort the blurry ones from the not so blurry ones! If your telescope has a tracker, things will be much easier but then you’re most probably already doing astro photography for real 🙂

Someone suggested that I should try to zoom in more but believe me, it will get really tricky if you are already using a high powered eyepiece because the motion of the Moon becomes intensified. Others advised that I should use continuous shooting. One could experiment with this but I have had no luck up to now. My cellphone’s camera seems to adjust focus and my continuous shots have all been very blurry.

Each cellphone is obviously different. The camera’s auto setting will most probably not give the best result. With some of my shots I even tried the “beauty” setting . So just play around with what you’ve got and try all your modes and exposure settings. The holders come in different sizes so make sure the dimensions will fit your phone. Read reviews on the different makes of holders before you buy. Some guys in my astronomy group have printed their own holders on a 3D printer.

Instead of going into a slump after the supermoon adventure, I will continue seeking interesting formations on the Moon. Eventually my plan is to do sketches of the images that I captured during this challenge.

Moonlight Fascination

Oct 2014

Moon - CarolInternational Observe the Moon Night was celebrated on 6 September 2014. All over the world people gathered to observe a brilliant Moon in gibbous phase.
What is this fascination we have with our nearest celestial neighbour? For one, our Moon is breathtakingly beautiful. Every night it takes on a new shape as the sunlit portion moves across its face to its own rhythm. From new moon to full moon and back to new moon takes an average 29 days 12 hours 44 minutes

The human brain seems to crave rhythm.
Though solar, lunar and seasonal cycles play a lesser role in modern society, the behaviour of our ancestors depended on these natural rhythms.

Scientists have been doing intensive studies on circadian rhythms. These are physical, mental and behavioural changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle and produced by natural factors within the body, but are also affected by signals from the environment.

Although not yet scientifically proven, some individuals believe that the Moon has a great influence on their well- being. They argue that if the Moon governs the tides, surely it would have an influence on the human body as well. There is one problem with this line of thought. The oceans are vast. An individual is but a very tiny speck on Earth.

The Ocean tides are controlled by the forces of gravity (tugging) of the Moon and Sun as well as by the rotation of Earth. Coastal areas usually experience two high and two low tides every 24 hours and 50 minutes. High tides occur 12 hours and 25 minutes apart. It takes six hours and 12.5 minutes for the water at the shore to go from high to low, or from low to high –the rhythm of ebb and flow.

The Earth’s axial rotation and the Moon’s orbital rotation result in a catch-up situation and moonrise for a specific location will be about 50 min later each day. The Moon is also visible during the day, except during new moon, when it occupies the same region in the sky as the Sun and at full moon .

Humans are by nature inquisitive. The Moon is tidally locked to our planet (its orbit of 27.5 is the same time as its axial rotation), showing just one side to us here on Earth. It was only natural that we wanted to know what the far side looked like. Once humans realised that the distance to the Moon could be overcome, missions to the Moon became commonplace and we now know that the most beautiful side is facing us!

Some say they can see a man on the Moon. During full moon I definitely see the rabbit who is still patiently mixing an elixir for Chang’e to be able to return to her beloved husband, Houyi, as in the Chinese legend.

In a world of bright lights we no longer rely on the Moon to guide our daily activities. How often do we forget that it is up there? Yet sometimes as you draw the curtains for the night it surprises you and your gaze locks in utter fascination.

It was fascination I know
And it might have ended
Right then, at the start
Just a passing glance
Just a brief romance
And next moment I kiss you
Fascination turned to love

– Nat King Cole