Whether the perfect center piece of a romantic evening or background for a scary movie, a full moon is a powerful player. It drives our tides and can even light our path through the darkness. From its rise until it hides behind the western horizon, we know the moon is always on the move. Minute by minute, hour by hour, the moon marches across the complete distance of our skies. Even though we know all this, do we really know how fast the moon is flying around our galactic oasis? On a spur of the moment thought, I decided to answer this very question.
According to scientists much smarter than me, the answer is 1.022 km per second. But what does that mean to a photographer? To conduct my experiment, I set my full frame camera on a tripod with a focal length of 365mm. After dialing in the correct exposure for the moon (remember – it’s much brighter than you think), I set the moon in the lower left corner of the frame and set my trusty iPhone timer for 60 seconds. >CLICK< The 1st frame was made and the timer started again. A minute later >CLICK< and I reset the timer. Rinse, lather and repeat for the next 10 minutes. In all, my little activity took 11 minutes to get 11 frames.
To get a true comparison, I opened all 11 layers in Photoshop. As the camera was locked on a tripod, there was no need to align the images. After selecting the blend mode of Lighten, I saw all 11 frames and, most importantly, the path of the moon high above. I also noticed how the 1st frame showing a moon lower in the sky was not as bright at the 11th frame, especially on the right edge of the celestial body. To make the moon completely visible in each frame, I hide the even numbered frames which showed a 2 minute time lapse. The attached side-by-side image shows both the frames with a 2 minute gap and then all 11 frames with the actual 1 minute spacing and overlapped position.
So what did this prove? Absolutely nothing, but it was a fun way to spend 11 minutes while admiring a beautiful full moon rising!
Photo Stuff: 11 frames, tripod mounted. Edited in LR and PS
Chip Bunnell Photography
©2016 All Rights Reserved