How Supermoons Work

By: Patrick J. Kiger  | 

How to Photograph a Supermoon

supermoon, acropolis
Juxtaposing a supermoon with a well-known landmark (like the ancient Acropolis hill in Athens, Greece) makes your supermoon photograph more interesting. ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images

Even though supermoons don't really affect the earth much and aren't considered that important by scientists, they're still an interesting phenomenon to photograph. Here are some tips from photographers on shooting a supermoon.

  • Use the right equipment and settings. Ideally, you want to use a digital single-lens reflex camera with an attachable 70 to 300 millimeter telephoto lens, so you can get a more detailed image. Use the daylight white balance setting on your DSLR, since what you're trying to capture is reflected sunlight.
  • Turn off your flash, even if you're shooting with your smartphone. It'll illuminate your immediate surroundings, and make the moon look insignificant by comparison. Consider downloading one of the many apps that allow you to adjust a smartphone camera to take the best pictures in the darkness [sources: Gee, Orwig, Cuthbertson].
  • Stabilize your camera. It's a good idea to use a tripod, or else to brace your camera against some fixed object such as a lamppost or windowsill, to reduce shaking that could wipe out details and make the image blurry. That also will allow you to use a longer exposure time and take in more light, a benefit when shooting at night [source: Hoffman].
  • Don't just photograph the supermoon itself. NASA senior photographer Bill Ingalls recommends juxtaposing the moon with some land-based object, such as a recognizable local building, in order to give a reference point that will drive home the moon's size [source: Stone].


Supermoon FAQ

How often does a Supermoon occur?
Supermoons, or perigees, happen a few times a year (at most).
What is a supermoon?
The term supermoon isn't one used by astronomers, but people use it to refer to a full or new moon that is near the closest point of its orbit around Earth.
What is the closest the moon gets to Earth?
On Jan. 4, 1912, a supermoon was 221,441 miles (356,375 kilometers) from Earth. According to EarthSky, Another supermoon won't come this close until Nov. 25, 2034.
What does a supermoon look like?
According to, depending on the exact distance between the Earth and the moon, a supermoon can appear as much as 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than the usual moon.
When can I see the moon closest to Earth?
In the year 2021, the moon will come closest to Earth on Dec. 4, 2021.

Author's Note: How Supermoons Work

This assignment was interesting to me because I've always found it enchanting to go for walks at night, under the illumination of a full moon.

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More Great Links


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