Super Moon

March 20, 2011  •  Leave a Comment
On Saturday, we experienced an unusually large moon known as a "super moon" or a super "perigee moon". A super moon is when the moon, following an elliptical orbit around the earth, makes its closest approach to the earth (when the moon is at its "perigee") and when the moon is fully illuminated. A super moon is a very rare phenomenonthe last occurrence having taken place in 1993.


Unlike Friday, the sun set on Saturday before the moon rose. The weather was also perfect. The biggest challenge was going to be one of composition. I would have liked to get a shot of the Capitol framed by the moon.

Using The Photographer's Ephemeris, I charted out the path the moon would take. From the perspective of standing on the National Mall, it would rise to the southeast of the Capitol and follow a path moving to the northwest. The moon would look its largest while closest to the horizon and the Capitol would look smaller relative to the moon the further I stood from the Capitol. So, ideally I would stand far away from the Capitol to the northwest.

Unfortunately, the line of sight from the northwest was blocked by buildings and trees. If I got closer, the Capitol would dwarf the moon and block it until it rose way above the horizon. I thought I might get the shot if I stood on the northern edge of the Mall near 4th Street. Apparently, many other photographers had the same thought, including a nice Associated Press photographer I chatted with while waiting for the moon to rise.

Flexibility saved the day. The shot from the Mall never materialized. Thinking quickly, I decided to frame another object with the moonone that was significantly smaller than the Capitol and one that would be high enough that I could get the right angle. So, I shot the Statue of Freedom from northwestern parking lot of the Capitol. I think it turned out quite nicely.

Also of note, while I was waiting for the sun to set and the moon to rise, I took this shot of the Washington Monument. I'm very happy with this image. Can you see the airplane in the bottom left-hand corner headed towards Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport?


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