shooting the moon

Whatever you’re thinking, it’s not that!

The full moon was around 10:30pm last night (March 29), or 2:30am this morning (March 30), or sometime on either of those days, depending upon what website you look on.

All I know is that last night it was a big round full-looking moon to me. Which meant I was outside at moonrise with my new Nikon D5000 digital SLR fancier-than-I-handle camera.

Since I got this camera, I’ve made shooting the moon one of my new obsessions. In January we traveled up to the snow-covered mountains outside of Yosemite and shot the moon through the pines. As the moon rose, it encountered a spotty cloud cover that resulted in a stunning light show as the moon danced between the clouds. Unfortunately, we didn’t take the tripod with us, so not many of the shots came out clear. But a few did. I’ll be posting those on my website soon.

February was a crazy, buzy month for me and for the weather. It was overcast and rained a lot, but somewhere in there I managed to snag a few photos of the moon through the oaks around our house.

Last night we drove up the road to a hilltop just a few miles from the house. The moon came up a reddish orange and I was able to get some shots through the foothill pines before it disappeared into the heavy cloud cover that was just rolling in. Then later in the evening I shot it through the oaks. It was playing hide-n-go-seek with the clouds and I really hope some of those pictures came out.

I haven’t looked at the shots yet (there’s over a hundred) and I’m curious to see what I ended up with. I used both the tripod and a 200mm zoom. Hopefully there are a couple that are in some kind of clear focus.

The moon is so fascinating. It’s our constant companion, one that we tend to take for granted. But have you ever wondered what it would be like to have several moons? To have several round nightlights in the sky, and how bright it might be if they were all full at once?

I think if we did, we would be a much more astronomically-aware society. Well, maybe not these days. It’s hard to tear people way from their square boxes of light, whether it’s computer screens, TV’s, or iPhones attached to their hands.

But I love the moon and all its various phases. Waxing, waning, crescent, gibbous, bright, or dark – it’s always changing and yet, reasurringly, always the same. It’s one constant we can count on in these times of climatic, economical, and political upheaval.

Oh, and by the way, many societies across the earth have names for the moon each month which describe the season. According to The Farmer’s Almanac (, January is the Wolf Moon and October is the Harvest Moon. Here’s what they say about March:

“March – Full Worm Moon. As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter.”

Worm Moon? Doesn’t sound too classy. Think I’ll go with Full Crow Moon. Wait – what are those black birds in the graphic at the top of this page? Could they be crows?

Well, enough mooning around over the moon. Check back to see what the photos turned out like.

Then you can say I mooned you!


PS – Today is March 30, 2010, or 3/30/2010.  Which means – today is another 9 day!

3 thoughts on “shooting the moon

  1. In my stories I have played around with multiple moons, or a society that lives on a moon and looks back at a planet.

    I agree, people would be more interested if they could see more. I imagine, before there was as much pollution or as many street lights, that people could see more detail in space. I think that is why the lights in the sky were so important to ancient civilizations.

  2. Multiple moons would have some interesting tidal effects. Since it’s pretty well established that planets need at least one large moon to prevent rotational wobble, more than one large moon might make the whole arrangement unstable. Planetary wobble would have a destabilizing effect on weather, and a nominally consistant weather pattern is necessary for the development of our type of life forms. I think something like our one big moon, and maybe some smaller ones, maybe like those orbiting Mars, would be really, really cool, and might indeed make more everyday people… AWARE of the heavens above. Especially modern society, which seems content indeed to look inward rather than outward, ironically leaving us less enlightened about our place in the universe.

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