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  • Betty Girardeau

Under The Light Of The Moon

I learned yesterday that something exciting was going to happen in the sky last night. The moon and Mars were going to be in conjunction. Mars and the waning gibbous moon would be seen in alignment. They would appear to be traveling together through the night sky. One of the best times to view the moon I think is at its rising. According to my Moon Seeker app, that was due to happen about 11:30 PM. So shortly before that time I headed off down to the end of my street and set up my tripod and my camera with my 200x500 mm lens and focused on the southeastern sky. Had I been at the beach, the moon rise would have probably been "on time." But I live in the mountains. So the moon had to climb a bit more in the sky before breaking over the crest of the distant mountains, about twenty minutes later. If there is anything more exciting than a sunrise, it might be a moonrise over the mountains. At first there is just this reddish glow which gets increasingly brighter, and suddenly there it is, moving higher into the sky than you would imagine it would. Then once totally in the sky, it's upward movement seems to slow as there is nothing but a clear sky surrounding it, so there is nothing to which to compare its movement. I have frequently gone out to shoot full moons at different times of the year, but realized last night was the first time I had shot a gibbous one. And, yes, just as promised, there was Mars to the left and a bit higher than the moon. Astronomers have promised that it will get larger in the night sky until it is at its closest point to the earth in October. But it will only appear in tandem with the moon for a few more nights as the moon continues to wane. This coming week promises some other exciting sky events though. Tuesday evening will be the height of the annual Perseids Meteor Shower. I have never actually been able to photograph this. But the weather looks promising for a clear evening. I just wish I had neighborhood skies that had a little less light pollution. Who knows, I might get some interesting shots anyway. It's worth a try. I should say something about the image above. I did do a little post processing doctoring. The original moon shot, while very sharp, was pretty boring. So I copied the moon and turned the copy into a bit of a moon shadow effect. Then I dropped that image into one that I had taken another time that had a sharp star (or maybe it was Mars) and some tree silhouettes. But, honestly, except for the extra moon shadow, the sky really did look like that last night, even to the position of Mars next to the moon.

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