Friday, 31 July 2015

Once in a blue moon

Thirteen full moons in 52 weeks - not all of them fitting within one calendar year - so when a month has two full moons - such as this July (2nd and 31st) - the second is called a 'blue moon' (not to be confused with a 'harvest moon', which occurs in August). And the fact that the night was cloudless gave me the chance to photograph the moon. Splendid!

Here it is - shot using a Nikkor 80-400mm lens, set to manual focus on a tripod with VR switched off, mounted on my Nikon D3300, with its 24 megapixel sensor. The moon truly is a thing of wonder - this huge lump of rock, our only natural satellite, progressing majestically about the heavens, over our heads, a quarter of a million miles away. Click to enlarge - it's fabulous. It makes the recent photos of Pluto and Ceres all the more remarkable - the feat of getting a probe all the way there to send back images to earth.

The last time I blogged the moon was in December 2008, when it came closer to the earth than in a long while. For those with an interest in photography and astronomy, here are the two images side by side, with today's image rotated to align with the one taken six and half years ago. Same lens - but attached that night to my old Nikon D80, which had a mere 12 megapixel sensor. Comparing the two photographs closely, the enhanced detail that the more modern sensor extracts from the image is clear to see. I look forward to snapping the moon with a 96 megapixel sensor within a few years. And maybe a 600mm lens!

Finally - an unexpected bonus - a photo of a plane coming into land at Warsaw Okęcie airport against a full moon. It's incredibly difficult to get a perfectly framed shot of an aircraft coming into land with a moon in the background. Never mind the focus and the motion blur - the trick is the framing. It's not easy to photomontage such an image either - the heat haze from the jet engines makes it very time-consuming to do right. Even if you know the flightpath and work out the orbit of the moon, being in the right place at the right time on a cloudless night requires years of patience or luck.

Catching the plane exactly in the middle is incredibly difficult. The moon is not stationary against the heavens. Have a look at Google Images' search results for 'plane against a full moon' - see how many images are Photoshopped and how few are real.

This time last year:
A return to Snowdon - Wales' highest peak

This time three years ago:
On the eve of Warsaw's Veturillo revolution

This time four years ago:
Getting ready for the 'W'-hour flypast

This time five years ago:
A century of Polish scouting

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