Supermoon | August 11, 2014 | Manila, Philippines

My amateur attempt at shooting the “supermoon” .

The year 2014 has five “supermoons”. Two new moons in January, and three full moons in July, August, and September. Of the five supermoons of 2014, this fourth one on August 11, 2014 (August 10, 2:10 PM EDT)  is the closest point the moon is to Earth for the whole year. This is what astronomers call a perigee full moon. In fact, it is the closest the moon has been to earth for over twenty years! And because it is closer to the earth, the moon appears bigger and brighter than regular full moons. (Some say 14% bigger and 30% brighter than usual, not that one would notice the difference with the naked eye.) Even more rare is to have three in such close proximity (3 successive months: July, August, & the next one in September) This is not expected to happen again until 2034.

Taken on August 10, 2014 at 11:16 PM

Another shot taken on August 10, 2014 at 11:16 PM

 

These were shot through my window at (1) 11:16 PM,( 2) 11:16 PM, (3) 11:22 PM (Aug. 10). The fourth one below was taken at 2:15am (Aug. 11).

 

The street I live in is a deep, narrow street flanked by buildings on both sides. Between our building and those across from us, I can only see a sliver of the sky if I lean out my window (not too much, because it has iron railings). I knew there was a good chance the moon won’t even be visible where I was so I planned to look out the window in the early evening to check the path of the moon.

Well, old age does this to you – I totally forgot.

By the time I remembered to look out the window the moon was almost directly above me. I couldn’t lean out too much because of the window railings, so I had to engage in major body contortions:  I leant over backwards , bent and twisted myself until it felt like I was doing some sort of limbo rock for the not-so-limber. I pulled muscles I didn’t even know I had. Even my scalp hurt. *whine* (Okay, that was because my hair got caught in my neck strap. -_- )

And all the while I had to point a camera fitted with a 1.5kg lens upwards while bending over backwards, trying to focus manually on the moon above me through the iron window railings without my hand shaking too much. I can tell you, it wasn’t easy. Nor a pretty sight. I was sure I heard sounds of sniggering echoing in the quiet night from people living across the street who just happened to look out their window at that exact moment. Oh, the awkward positions I get into…

 

Taken on August 10, 2014 at 11:22 PM

 

 

So, here are the gears I used:

Pentax K-3 (handheld, no tripod)
Tamron 70-200mm
2x teleconverter (in some shots)

I took shots using both the Tamron 70-200mm and the Pentax DAL 55-300mm kit lens. The 70-200mm has an advantage in image quality, while the 55-300 has longer focal length, which I learnt counts for a LOT when taking photos of the moon (for the obvious reasons). In the end, I settled on the 70-200mm. I tried using a 2X teleconverter on both lenses but, as with long lenses  extended even longer by a teleconverter, camera shake is a big factor to consider. Alas, I have no tripod and my hands shook too much, so some shots came out soft and blurry.

 

This one below was taken at 2:15 AM, the nearest to the time when the supermoon was was closest to earth at 2:10 AM (Philippine Time).

Taken on August 11, 2014 at 2:15 AM

 

 

My last shot of the moon as it was being covered in thick smoky clouds. A sign for me to go to bed.

August 11, 2014 2:53 AM

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