Moon Rise Behind Cathedral Rock in Sedona

It’s spring and this is the time of the year when the moon rise behind the sunset-lit spires of Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona, can be breathtaking.

Two years ago, I took a 1-day workshop from Southwest Perspectives called “Sedona Full Moon Hunt.” We were taught not just how to use the camera for capturing the image but, more importantly, how to know when and where to position ourselves for these types of images.

There are several applications available for smart phones, tablets, and computers that provide this information. My program of choice is The Photographer’s Ephemeris. With this information in hand, one can position themselves in the right spot and wait for the moon to rise. The waiting part, however, can be tough as you wonder if you are in the “right” place. It’s a moment of relief, then, when the moon rises right where you expected it in the gap.

Moonrise behind Cathedral Rock.
Moonrise behind Cathedral Rock.

As the calendar marches forward into spring and early summer the location of the moon moves south relative to the rocks; it then moves north in the cooler season. It’s during the warmer months that it lines up best with the gaps between the spires.

Moonrise behind Cathedral Rock.
Moonrise behind Cathedral Rock.

If you get too close to the rocks the moon will appear small compared to the spires. Get farther away and the relative size of the moon appears much larger in comparison. But it’s never that easy. Some shooting locations are effortless to get to— drive, park, set up, done. Others require a bit of walking or hiking.

Getting in the right place is at least part of the enjoyment of capturing these images.


  1. Fantastic shot – great framing an amazing color. I need to put this on my list!

  2. Thanks, Mike! This image is now on many photographers “bucket list.” I see more photographers every year shooting the moon behind Cathedral Rock. Good luck!

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