Moonrise and Cathedral Rock–May 2024

We are now in the season for capturing the nearly-full Moon as it rises behind Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona. The best time to capture this is a day (or two) before the actual full Moon so that late afternoon sunlight still illuminates Cathedral Rock. As always, The Photographers Ephemeris greatly aides in determining the best location to capture this event.

The nearly-full Moon rises behind Cathedral Rock and Oak Creek near Sedona, Arizona.
The nearly-full Moon rises behind Cathedral Rock and Oak Creek near Sedona, Arizona.

The timing on this Moonrise was late enough that the Sun would already be partially obscured by mountains and ridges to the west. So one photograph was made when the light on Cathedral Rock was most dramatic and about ten minutes later the Moon photograph was taken as it rose above Cathedral Rock. The two photographs were then combined to create this composite image.

A short time earlier there were several people on the rocks in the creek including a portrait photographer. Thankfully they got their shots and left before it was time for us to take our photographs.

Bonus: a few days earlier I shot this image of the waxing gibbous Moon using a 500mm telephoto.

Waxing gibbous Moon on 17 May 2024.
Waxing gibbous Moon on 17 May 2024.

 

Comet 144P/Kishuda

Last week I was able to get some good images of Comet 144P/Kushida which was located in the constellation Taurus and near the star Aldebaran. Being this close to a bright star makes it fairly easy to find.

Comet 144P/Kushida on 13 February 2024 while it moved through the constellation Taurus.
Comet 144P/Kushida on 13 February 2024 while it moved through the constellation Taurus.
Screen shot from Stellarium showing the field of view at 500mm.
Screen shot from Stellarium showing the field of view at 500mm.

I first shot using an 80-200mm zoom lens. The short end (80mm) gave me a wide field of view to find the comet and then I zoomed to the long end (200mm). After about a half-hour of shooting I decided to switch to the 200-500mm zoom lens. Starting at 200mm to center the comet, I then zoomed to 500mm. The image above is the result of stacking 22 images (11 minutes exposure time) then post processing with rnc-color-stretch and finally, Lightroom and Photoshop. Above is a screen shot from the sky application Stellarium showing the field of view at 500mm.

The waxing gibbous Moon on 18 February 2024.
The waxing gibbous Moon on 18 February 2024.

Bonus: image of the waxing gibbous Moon a week later. The image was converted from RGB to L*a*b color space and then the two color channels were adjusted to bring out the subtle colors of the Moon.

Three Planets and the Moon

A few days ago the waxing crescent Moon joined the planets Mercury, Venus, and Mars in the evening sky. A few clouds and the reflection of the evening sky in the lake added a bit of color to the scene.

Mercury, Venus, Mars, and the Moon in the evening sky.
Mercury, Venus, Mars, and the Moon in the evening sky.
Mercury, Venus, Mars, and the Moon in the evening sky (with labels).
Mercury, Venus, Mars, and the Moon in the evening sky (with labels).
Screen capture from Stellarium.app showing the positions of the planets and Moon in the evening sky.
Screen capture from Stellarium.app showing the positions of the planets and Moon in the evening sky.

Afterwards, I stayed around to watch the rocket launch described in the previous post.

A Slim Crescent Moon

The new Moon occurred a few days ago and just 23 hours later there was a thin (0.9% illuminated) crescent Moon visible in the evening twilight sky. I’ve been practicing with a recently acquired telephoto lens and this was another opportunity to have some fun with the lens.

A thin crescent Moon visible in the evening twilight sky.
A thin crescent Moon visible in the evening twilight sky.
The crescent Moon sinks lower in the sky.
The crescent Moon sinks lower in the sky.

Both of these images are crops from the original.

Full Moon at Grand Canyon

There was a full Moon this past weekend (05 February 2023) and we decided it would be fun to spend a few days at Grand Canyon and do some photography and hiking.

The nearly-full Moon rises above the North Rim of Grand Canyon.
The nearly-full Moon rises above the North Rim of Grand Canyon.

We arrived in the early afternoon at the East Entrance to avoid the possible long lines at the more popular South Entrance. Our first stop was at Desert View because I wanted to take some updated photos of the interior of the Desert View Watchtower. First attempts were with a 24mm wide angle but it was not wide enough. So, back to the car to get the 17–35mm ultra-wide lens.

Upward view of the interior of the Desert View Watchtower, Grand Canyon.
Upward view of the interior of the Desert View Watchtower, Grand Canyon.
Interior artwork in the Desert View Watchtower, Grand Canyon.
Interior artwork in the Desert View Watchtower, Grand Canyon.

For the Moonrise we went to the Visitors Center parking area and walked along the Rim Trail to capture the nearly-full Moon rising over the North Rim. Unfortunately, distant high clouds prevented seeing the Moon until it was well above the horizon. No matter, it was still very nice. While waiting for the Moon, I shot photos of hikers ascending the South Kaibab Trail near the Ooh-Aah Viewpoint with the late afternoon sun illuminating the rock faces.

Vishnu Temple in the distance behind Yaki Point, Grand Canyon.
Vishnu Temple in the distance behind Yaki Point, Grand Canyon.
Hikers ascending the South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon.
Hikers ascending the South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon.
Testing the new Nikon lens at Grand Canyon.
Testing the new Nikon lens at Grand Canyon.

The following day also included a photoshoot of the rising Moon but we had plenty of time before that and found ourselves hiking down Bright Angel Trail. The trail was covered in packed snow and foot traction was helpful. We opted to only hike down as far as 1½ Mile Rest House before returning. I didn’t time the descent but the return ascent was 57 minutes. Not too bad for 1.5 miles and 1120′ vertical gain.

Snow covers the Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon.
Snow covers the Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon.

The Moonrise photography went well with the Moon rising in the notch between Cape Royal on the North Rim and Wotans Throne in the Canyon.

The full Moon rises between Cape Royal on the North Rim and Wotans Throne in Grand Canyon.
The full Moon rises between Cape Royal on the North Rim and Wotans Throne in Grand Canyon.
Early morning sun illuminates the Tower of Set and Horus Temple as seen from Hopi Point, Grand Canyon.
Early morning sun illuminates the Tower of Set and Horus Temple as seen from Hopi Point, Grand Canyon.

The following morning we arose early to see the sunrise from Hopi Point. With the passage of a weak cold front during the night I was hoping for some dramatic clouds. Nope. Nothing. Clear skies but there was the setting Moon in the west. As a consolation I got early morning light on the Tower of Set and Horus Temple.