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Supermoon on Sunday – How to photograph this weekend’s full SUPER moon

The biggest and brightest full moon of the year graces the sky early Sunday as the moon swings closer to Earth than usual.

While the moon will appear 14 percent larger than normal, sky watchers won’t be able to notice the difference with the naked eye. Still, astronomers say it’s worth looking up and appreciating the cosmos.

‘‘It gets people out there looking at the moon, and might make a few more people aware that there’s interesting stuff going on in the night sky,’’ Geoff Chester of the U.S. Naval Observatory said in an email.

Some viewers may think the supermoon looks more dazzling, but it’s actually an optical illusion. The moon looms larger on the horizon next to trees and buildings.

The moon will come within 222,000 miles (357,000 kilometers) of Earth and turn full around 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT), making it the best time to view.

As in any supermoon event, high tides are forecast because of the moon’s proximity, but the effect is expected to be small.

The largest full moon of the year will rise this weekend, and for any shutterbugs hoping to snap photos of the so-called “supermoon,” following some easy guidelines can help people make the most of their moon shots.
On Sunday (June 23), the moon will reach the closest point to Earth in its asymmetrical orbit, and will appear roughly 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than the full moon at its farthest point from the planet, according to SPACE.com. Photographing the supermoon does not require much special equipment, but the trick to capturing more than just a bright, white blob is to think like a camera, said Jason Mrachina, a professional photographer based in Des Moines, Iowa.

“To your camera, the moon is extremely bright, especially compared to a black background,” Mrachina told LiveScience. “It’s kind of akin to taking a picture of a bare light bulb in a black room, and wondering why you can’t see the filament. When you’re shooting at night, the relative difference between light and dark is extremely high, so you have to take that into consideration.”

Tripods are key

To start, photographers should use a tripod to avoid taking blurry images. The best results come from holding the camera very still, and one of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to hold the camera steady by hand, Mrachina said.
He also recommends using a long lens — generally 200 millimeters or longer — to capture the dazzling lunar display.

“If you take the photo with a camera phone, or a wide-angle point-and-shoot without an optical zoom, you’re going to be unhappy because the moon is going to look tiny in the image,” Mrachina said. “With too wide of an angle, you don’t get much of the moon to fill the frame.”
Another key way to manage the sharp contrast between light and dark in moon photos is to adjust the camera’s settings. This involves manually setting the shutter speed and aperture, which acts as the iris of the camera and regulates how much light will be allowed into the lens, and changing the ISO, which refers to the sensitivity of the photo cell in the camera.
“As soon as you tell people not to shoot in automatic mode, you lose a lot of people who are too scared to try it,” Mrachina said. “But, it’s actually not hard, and with the manual settings, you will instantly get better results than if you had shot automatic.”
Recommended camera settings
Since the moon is bright and moves quickly, photographers need to use a fast shutter speed. “The moon traverses the sky very quickly, so you have to have a shutter speed that can capture the frame and stop the motion of the moon, while also keeping the image properly exposed,” he explained.
Mrachina recommends the following settings for handheld cameras, and ones mounted on tripods:

Tripod
ISO 100 – 200
Aperture F11 – F14
Shutter 1/125 – 1/250
Handheld
ISO 800-1000
Aperture f8 – 9
Shutter 1/1000 – 1/1500

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