3 min read . April 17, 2021
The celestial phenomenon known as the supermoon has captivated stargazers and photographers alike for centuries. This awe-inspiring event occurs when a full moon coincides with its closest approach to Earth. It results in a larger-than-life appearance that leaves onlookers spellbound. In this article, we will explore how the supermoon differs from a regular moon. We’ll delve into the science behind its formation and provide tips for capturing its beauty through photography.
How the Supermoon Differs from a Regular Moon
A supermoon is not your average full moon; it appears up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than an ordinary full moon. This striking difference is due to its proximity to Earth during perigee – the point in its orbit when it’s closest to our planet. While regular full moons occur approximately once every month, supermoons are rarer events that can happen only a few times each year.
In addition to their increased size and brightness, supermoons also have an impact on Earth’s tides. The gravitational pull of these massive lunar spectacles causes higher-than-normal tides known as “perigean spring tides.” Extreme tidal fluctuations can lead to coastal flooding or erosion. They also create opportunities for beachcombers seeking treasures washed ashore by powerful waves.
Lastly, while all full moons have been associated with folklore and mythology throughout history, supermoons hold particular significance in various cultures around the world. Some believe they bring good fortune or signal important life changes; others view them as harbingers of natural disasters or other calamities.
The Science Behind the Supermoon’s Formation
Supermoons are born out of two key factors: lunar perigee and syzygy (the alignment of three celestial bodies). When these two phenomena coincide during a full moon phase, we witness what is commonly referred to as a supermoon. The moon’s elliptical orbit around Earth means that its distance from our planet varies throughout the month, with perigee being the closest point and apogee being the farthest.
During syzygy, Earth, moon, and sun align in a straight line. This alignment occurs during both full moons (when the moon is opposite the sun) and new moons (when it’s between Earth and the sun). However, only when syzygy coincides with lunar perigee does a supermoon occur.
It’s important to note that not all supermoons are created equal. The size and brightness of each event can vary depending on just how close to perigee it occurs. Some years may even boast multiple supermoons in succession – a phenomenon known as a “supermoon trilogy.”
Capturing the Beauty: Tips for Photographing Supermoons
Photographing a supermoon can be an exhilarating experience for both amateur and professional photographers alike. To ensure you capture its true majesty, consider these tips:
1. Plan ahead: Research when and where the next supermoon will occur so you can scout out prime viewing locations beforehand. Look for areas with minimal light pollution or obstructions like buildings or trees.
2. Use appropriate gear: A tripod is essential for stabilizing your camera during long exposures; this will help prevent blurry images caused by camera shake. Additionally, using a telephoto lens will allow you to zoom in on the moon’s surface details while maintaining sharp focus.
3. Experiment with settings: While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to photographing supermoons, some general guidelines include using manual mode on your camera; setting aperture between f/8 and f/11; selecting shutter speed based on your lens’ focal length (for example, if using a 200mm lens, try 1/200th of a second); and adjusting ISO as needed to achieve proper exposure.
The supermoon is a fascinating celestial event that offers both visual splendor and scientific intrigue. Understanding the unique characteristics and formation of lunar spectacles is essential. Employ effective photography techniques to appreciate and capture their beauty.