December Solstice Crescent Moon with Earthshine

A wonderful warm December evening in Austin... I took my grandson out to learn to take images of the moon with his point and shoot camera and Galileoscope. He made a lovely sunset nightscape with the moon and even snapped the crescent with an afocal shot through his telescope eyepiece. He asked me to bring my telescope too, so we shot the moon as it set through the branches of an old oak.

I use compositing in this image to extend the reach of the camera in capturing reality and not to create a fantasy. With the camera/telescope on an equatorially aligned mount, it's easy to anticipate the Moon's path to the skyline or through tree branches. My first exposures captures the foreground that the moon will traverse in a few minutes while light is brighter. Because of the very shallow depth of field with my f15 telescope, I refocus for the branches. Next it's back to the moon to refocus and capture enough images for a lucky image stack. Capturing 50 images takes less than a minute. Then another minute for longer exposure images for the earthshine stack. With the image data safely captured it's time to just enjoy the view as the moon sinks through the tree towards the horizon.

After grading and lucky image stacking, the branches, earthshine, and crescent stack are brought in as layers into photoshop ordered by brightness, dark to light. With the original scene fresh in mind, I use transparency and luminosity controlled blending to recreate the original scene. The final composite combines high dynamic range and focus stacking to create a realistic view of the scene, free of the limitations of the photographic equipment.

December Solstice Crescent Moon with Earthshine

The crescent Moon from Austin, Texas 2017-12-21 00:14 UT. Questar telescope f15 1350/89mm with Sony a6300 camera at prime focus. Foreground single exposure 2.5 sec at ISO 400, Earthshine 20 stacked exposures 0.8sec at ISO 400, Crescent stacked best 16 of 50 exposures 1/25 sec at ISO 400. Stacked and deconvolved in Lynkeos, HDR stack, and final crop in Photoshop.

Read more about the waxing crescent moon at EarthSky.

Content created: 2017-12-21




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Moon Phase