Capturing the Moon


The Moon is a pretty obvious target for viewing and photographing, and can be fairly easy to capture. The set-up might feel slightly counter-intuitive at first when you think you are taking photos in the dark but the Moon, especially a full moon, is stunningly bright. Take a look at a full moon through a telescope, without any filters, and I guarantee you’ll get spots in your eyes!

So you need to set your camera to a fast shutter speed and a relatively low ISO number to counter this brightness. The image above was taken with the camera body attached (without lens) to my 8inch, 1200mm focal length reflector telescope. We used ISO 100 at 1/800 of a second to achieve a fairly detailed moon. We could possible have used a slightly higher ISO or slower shutter speed to increase the brightness a bit, but it is always difficult to see what you have actually captured on your camera LCD screen. We can play around with this a little in GIMP to brighten it up and achieve something with a bit more “punch”. Maybe next time we will need a slightly higher ISO or longer exposure.


And I say “we” because this is my eldest daughter’s photograph for a school competition, and we are both pretty proud of her efforts. A new astrophotographer in the making!

The Moon is probably the easiest target out there, so have a go and see what you can come up with. Avoid full moons to see more detail in the craters along the terminator (the shadow arc), or go for a fuller moon to get the whole, dramatic picture. You can also try a-focal techniques just by holding up a Camera/Camera-phone to the eyepiece. As long as you have a bit of control over the settings, and the ability to focus to infinity, then you should be good to go.

Experiment, and have fun and reacquaint yourself with a night sky object that is often taken for granted!


Posted on March 8, 2015, in Astronomy, Astrophotography. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Mark, please send my compliments to your daughter. That’s stunning!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Shaula, I will! I am hoping they both develop an interest in the skies as there is so much amazing stuff to learn. And I’ll be much happier in a few years time when they are asking to borrow a telescope, rather than the car keys!


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