Sunday, March 4, 2012


I cowboyed a few moon shots this morning using a Nikon D3000 and an Orion 80mm refractor as a prime-focus lens. Normally I'd do a polar alignment and a 3-star calibration to track the moon, but I didn't have time. So I just used the hand controller to manually follow the sinking moon.

The above shot has a shutter speed of 1/80 second. ISO 200. A bit overexposed.

1/125 second shot here. Just about right. As the moon starts to set, though, shutter speed needs to be longer. Thicker atmosphere = less light.

Visibly oranger, this shot is 1/25 second. The thicker atmosphere does not allow for really crisp focus.

Posted by Dave


  1. I'm always amazed when I take the time to notice the setting sun on the horizon or the transit of the moon, how very quickly everything moves. We never note it unless we photograph (like you), or see it in proximity to something in our own space.

    Those are beautiful moonshots.

  2. Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for your kind words. In a couple of weeks I'll have more time to devote to the night sky. This blog will be off the hook with astrophotography.

    A couple of nights ago, I took Charlie out just after sunset. To the east was a full moon and Mars. To the west was Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury. Overhead was the constellation Orion and Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. Viewing doesn't get much better.


  3. It is now the 28th and I noticed an extremely bright star three days ago at about the five o:clock position wise under the moon and am thinking it must be a planet. I can even see it through the haze of rain clouds.
    Any guess?

    BTW, nice pics dude.

    1. Hi Busted,

      That would be Venus. Both Venus and Jupiter are visible right now, in the western sky, just after the sun sets, and three days ago the moon was hanging out with both planets. Mercury is about halfway between Venus and the sun, kinda hard to spot, but I saw it for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Also, a big, bright Mars is visible in the eastern sky just after sunset, and Saturn is directly overhead at about 2 a.m.



All comments are welcome.