bluemoonrisingThe sky show tonight brings us the full moon rising over Baltimore at 8:22PM EDT. That is 2 minutes after sunset and with the clear sky, lower humidity, and warm air the conditions are nearly perfect. There has been a lot of buzz about the blue moon, which I recently wrote about being the first in three years. The thing is, it is NOT blue! It is a term I described in depth in that article so I won’t repeat it here. But it will rise in the blue hour. So we can shoot one rumor down and raise up a sweet term photographers refer to. This blue hour is special time outside is just after sunset when there is still plenty of light in the sky, but the glare from the sun has set.  This is after the ‘golden hour’ which is when the sun is setting, and most people and nature scenes look wonderful in that light. Below are suggestions for camera settings in case you want to venture out. Hopefully you will share you best with m (us).  But as for the Blue Moon, this might be the only real version rising  this evening.  This was my view Thursday, and will be again at my place tonight to honor the show 😉  I promise not to explore Santa Clause, The Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy here!

One hidden secret is that the moon officially turned full this morning at 6:43 AM, so last night’s view was within 10 hours of that time. That is closer and slightly more illuminated that the when it rises today more than  13 1/2 hours beyond. So unless you zoom in with a camera or telescope you will not notice the difference. But you may want to zoom in to catch the craters without blowing out your iris. Here was the view from last night Kristin Hollis of Cloudjumper Photography got last night. Just for fun, I’ve included her comparison to a special night filter. Again, the moon will not actually be blue and I hope you are not blue finding this out.





So what can you do? Here are a few suggestions:

Tripod a must. You will need a long exposure and a stable camera is best.

Use a remote if possible. Actually touching the camera will make it shake, and you will no doubt end up with blur.

Kristin Hollis’ suggestion:

Non professionals can get good pics with the help of technology.

Nikon has a “scene” option with about 15 things to chose from… “Moon”being one of them. You can set up your shot manually but it is the only setting that gives you a “Hue” menu on the side.

Her Canon took better photos of the moon with no ‘moon’ setting. A completely different set up.

You still should test drive yourself. Almost no camera will do all the work for you and give you great results in low light.

Blue Hour Shooting:

  • AUTO-ISO off, and set ISO to the lowest available to your camera. This will likely be 100-200
  • White Balance- Auto if possible.
  • Aperture to about f13
  • Shutter speed: 4 to 6 seconds. If it is too bright, then shorten the shutter time.


As it gets darker...

Ramp up shutter times and open aperture. One friend who did not want to be mentioned sent me this tip:

“When you get to 30 seconds at f/11 you will need to start opening your aperture. I like to keep going until 30 seconds at f/3.5. At this point, most of the blue in the sky is gone. But you can ‘prolong’ the blue hour on nights with close to a full moon. The moon will light up the sky and reveal blue pretty much all night. I can get some blue very late at night using a 30s+ shutter and my largest available aperture”


Julie Smith from Sidaldee Photography suggests:

  • ISO 200 FSTOP 11  160

She went on to explain:

“Shutter Speed at 160 is because I am very steady handed. Most would need to use a tripod below 200 F stop 11 because I wanted super detail of the moon. ISO 200 because there was not clouds etc. that would have looked good in my shot so I wanted it pitch black”

Scott Hoggard used this to capture the International Space Station last night. That is a faster moving object, so he needed higher speed while allowing enough light in as well.

  • Nikon D7000
  • Orion 10″ Dobsonian telescope
  • 2x Barlow lens
  • Nikon mount for the telescope eyepiece/focuser
  • Remote trigger

Settings: Manual Mode – 1/200sec at 800 ISO, unsure of the aperture of the telescope with the barlow.


I hope some of this helps. I would love to see your results and share the best online…

*I’m thirsty now 😉

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