Amarillo Astronomy Club

Lunar Photography Part II


Written by Joe Tepera Sunday, 08 June 2014 12:02

My Effort at Lunar Photography

June 7, 2014      

With the modest success, at least for me, of photographing the April eclipse[1] on digital ”film”, I’m now shifting objectives. There are a couple of other moon events in June that I am working to capture. One is the June 13th full moon rise with downtown Amarillo included in the scene. Another is a young moon and the third is earthshine.

I recently came across an article on the web by a photographer[2] out of Colorado that focuses on moon photography. Unfortunately, the article wasn’t discovered until after the earthshine photographs that are discussed in this report were taken. However, a good portion of the information in that article was factored into the first quarter shot shown. What I like about this photograph is the detail at the terminator.  I’m encouraged that some improvement in technique can be claimed even though I’ve still a tall hill to climb.

In this shot of the moon, at first quarter, most of the recommendations from Mansurov’s article were used. The terminator, as well as some features of the lunar surface, can be seen. This was taken with the Canon Rebel T3i mounted on a new tripod. (In the April 2014 photos the old tripod was deemed to be too wobbly).  In addition, other lessons from the earthshine exercise as noted were incorporated.

I rank this as one of my better moon shots. This photograph was taken around 9:15 p.m. on June 5th. (Sunset occurred at 8 p.m.)

     Canon Rebel T3i with Tamron 70-300 zoom

      Manual focus with ISO locked at 100

      Mirror locked up

      AV Mode, time shutter release

      f/6.3, 1/13 second exposure

Earlier, I attempted to photograph earthshine. The photographs were less than spectacular. This photograph is one to the better of the group. Some of the lessons learned during the eclipse shoot were not implemented. For example, I failed to lock ISO to a preselected value. Exposure sensitivity for this shot was automatically set at ISO 6400. This explains why the illuminated portion of the moon is over-powering the picture to the point that earthshine is almost washed out. In my April 23rd Eclipse[3] article the photograph with a partial eclipse has a better balance between the illuminated portion and the shadowed part. The ISO was locked at 400 for that photograph.

Of the group of earthshine photographs there was significantly less camera shake when using the 10 second time delay shutter release. The remote release induced more camera shake than did the delay time released.  One might note the multi-image in the third photograph. This is an example of the shake induced by the remote shutter release.  (Mansurov mentions lens reflection in the article.  I cannot identify lens reflection).

A full moon will occur on June 13th. Based on astronomical tables, moon rise will be at a bearing of 114.6 degrees. Interestingly, downtown Amarillo is at almost the same bearing from my home (near Bishop Hills). Weather permitting (i.e. no evening clouds in the east), an attempt will be made to capture that moon rise with downtown Amarillo in the foreground. An unknown will be the intensity of sun light as sun set does not occur until 8:03 p.m.

Then on June 27th the new moon occurs at 0809 UDT (0309 CDT). Moon set for Amarillo is 2110 CDT. At that time, the moon will be about 18 hours old. The earliest young moon sighting is reported to be around 15 hours of age. It seems that under the very most favorable conditions it may be possible to obtain a photograph of a very young moon. I’m hoping that an 18 hour shot can be made.

Likewise, with some fortune, a very old moon could be captured on the 25th or 26th. Moon rise on the 26th is 0620, bearing 67 degrees.This would serve as practice time in anticipation of the young moon effort.  During the 25th through 28th I’ll be chasing earthshine as well.

I am trying to acquire a 1.4x teleconverter before the full moon effort. The 300 zoom will be extended out to 420 mm. That should add some zip to the end results.

June has opportunities to get a range of interesting moon photographs.

[1]Tepera, Joe,   “ April Lunar Eclipse (Revised 24th)”, April 23, 2014,
[2] Mansurov, Nasim, “How to Photograph the Moon”,
[3] Tepera, Ibid.



Joe Tepera's Lunar Eclipse Pictures


Wednesday, 23 April 2014 18:46

April 23, 2014

Revised April 24, 2014

I have always had an interest in astronomy, especially the photography part. Several previous attempts of lunar photograph were hilarious failures from many different perspectives (weather issues, equipment challenges, nocturnal creatures, etc). This recent April lunar eclipse gave me another bust or boom chance.  Here was the opportunity to work from my front porch, with some upgrades in equipment and plenty of fresh coffee just steps away.

My setup is a Canon Rebel T3i/EOS 600D camera with a Tamron 70 to 300 zoom lens; the combination mounted on a tripod. As it turned out, it is not a very steady tripod and most of the 21 photographs have blurring do to vibrations. The shake stabilization feature in the lens was inadequate to compensate for the mirror flip induced vibrations.

In the afternoon prior to the event I spent some time researching techniques for photographing the moon. Attempts were made to integrate several of the suggestions into the action. Some of the suggestion:

  Open the aperture to full open (small f number) so that shutter speed would be minimum (the assumption being that star streaking would be minimal)

 limit the ISO to 100 for full moon (non-eclipse condition) shots consistent with a full open aperture

  Use remote shutter release or time shutter release (reduce camera shake)

  Shoot in AV mode (Aperture Priority-aperture set, camera selects shutter speed)

  Use a lens with large focal length (my option was a 70-300 mm zoom).

Use SRL mirror uplock to avoid mirror induced vibrations.

Here are two of the better photos.

The partial eclipse was taken about 1:43 a.m. The camera was ISO limited to 400 (an ISO 100 limit is reported to be achievable but I couldn’t break that code in the camera instruction guide) and set to AV mode. The properties of the picture are:

  f/6.3 (actual aperture 5.38)

 1.6 seconds

  focal length 249

  ISO 400.

The second photo was taken about 2:43 a.m. The camera was ISO limited to 3200 since the moon’s brilliance was diminished and the shutter speed was getting longer.

  f/6.3 (actual aperture 5.38)

  1.6 seconds

  Focal length 175

  ISO 3200

Both photo have been chopped. No other post photo processing has been done.

One of the puzzling parts of this operation was the time of first contact. All of the literature had a start time of 11:54 p.m. CDT (April 14th). However, nothing was happening and I was beginning to wonder if I had the wrong date. Then as the eclipse actually started around 12:58 a.m (April 15th). It “dawned” on me that this is a solar driven event! Here in Amarillo we’re some 47 – 48 minutes of solar time behind CDT. So the first photo of the eclipse is 12:59 a.m. April 15th!

  f/6.3 (actual 5.38)

  1/8th second

  Focal length 271

  ISO 400.



The comment in the last paragraph concerning the start time of the event being a function of longitude location of the observer is too whimsical to have any technical reality. In other words just flat wrong and is without technical merit.
The time that the shadow falls on the moon is an actual event and is independent of time zone. I plead that my logical thought process at 2 a.m. is illogical at best. What actually happen; that is, I didn’t detect first contact or any portion of the penumbra event. That is the event scheduled for 11:54 p.m. CDT April 14th. Later inspecting of those photographs taken during this phase does not show any penumbra shadowing. It’s there, It is just I do not now , in post event inspection, and nor did I detect it’s occurrence in real time.
What is shown in the photograph taken at 11:54 p.m. is first contact at beginning of partial eclipse phase. The time if exposure correlates closely with published data
Lessons learned:
·         Before taking photographs ensure that camera date/time are correct.  The times on the photographs in this article are approximately 15 minutes fast. (Corrected in April 24th revision).
·         Have a very sturdy tripod.
·         Learn to shoot with SRL mirror locked up.
·         Use remote shutter control instead of time delay shutter control.
·         Proof read and re-proof read post shoot documentation
·         THINK!

2014 Star Party Dates at the 3 Rivers Foundation


Last Updated on Saturday, 08 February 2014 15:10 Written by Rich Merten Saturday, 08 February 2014 15:07

Here is list of Star Party Dates for 2014 at the 3 Rivers Foundation near Crowell Texas. This is a PDF of the handout that Art passed around at the February meeting.

Click Here


DIY Red Marker Lamps


Written by Rich Merten

Here is a little DIY project you might be interested in making

I liked the red marker lights that Art Schneider made up for Okie-Tex a couple months ago.  So I went over to Walmart and picked up some for myself.





Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 August 2014 14:55 Written by crstars Monday, 07 October 2013 04:28

Okie-Tex 2013

It was another banner year for the dark skies near Kenton Oklahoma.  Of the 352 officially registered attendees, 16 were from our Amarillo club.  Over half of our membership was there.

The camp filled up very early, I understand that there were campers lined up out to and down the highway when the gates first opened Saturday morning.  We arrived around 4pm and were lucky to find a good spot saved close to road and most of the club folk.  

Jan came along this year for the first time and she really enjoyed the experience.  Not so much for the galaxies and clusters but for the camping and social life with the other ladies.  As the accommodations continue to improve with larger trailers, tents and RV’s, more women are making the trip.  At least in my case, it caused a great improvement in the dinner menu.

We were there for four nights, Saturday thru Tuesday.  Observing wise, I would classify those nights to be very good to near excellent with only a waning interference from the moon after about 1:30 in the morning.  With temps maxing out in the 90’s daytime to a low of 35 measured at 6am on Sunday morning, finding shade, shorts and long underwear was a constant pastime.

This years astronomical highlight of course was comet C/(2012) S1 ISON as it whizzed past Mars.  On the nights we were there, the moon was too close for my small scope to pick it out but others reported finding it Tuesday night with about 20” of mirror.  However, I did see it in near real-time, time-lapse motion from the screen of a nearby observer shooting 1 min. exposures with his piggybacked Canon EOS 60dA.

Like smoke from a campfire, the beautiful fisheye lensed Milky Way picture below is from Pearre Chase’s brother Jim, taken on his first night there.  Jim also has a great time lapse video at:

I encourage others to send in their comments and pictures to be posted here and in our picture gallery.



Fisheye Milky Way


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