|The light from the full moon is about 135 times brighter than starlight! ~ © Royce Bair|
|Even a quarter moon, low in the sky, can overpower all but the brightest stars ~ © Royce Bair|
|Even a crescent moon is 5X brighter than starlight.|
Only on a new moon? It would seem then that only on the night of a new moon, or the first night of a waxing moon, or the last night of a waning moon would be the only three nights of the month available for good star photo photography! Not so. While these three nights do offer excellent night darkness for star photography, there are selective hours on many other nights of the month that are suitable for good star photography, as you will see from the chart below. (To track the phases of the moon, I use The Old Farmer's Almanac Moon Phase Calendar.)
|The day of the New Moon, and the day before & after offer excellent night darkness for star photography.|
|Moonrise/set & sunrise/set times for July 2013 in Moab, Utah|
The area highlighted in darker blue is the 3-day period in July around the New Moon. Normally, this period would lengthen your night opportunity, but the long days and short nights of summer are the limiting factor here. From July 15 - 29, the moon goes from its First Quarter (50%), to Full Moon (100%), and to it's Last Quarter (50%). During this very bright period, it can still give off quite a bit of light to the sky, even below the horizon —for up to 30 minutes after it has set, and for up to 30 minutes before it rises. Hence, the highlighted times in the "Window of Opportunity" column. The sky directly above the setting and rising moon can be affected during these time periods, similar to this image.
NOTE: *These blank spaces in the table indicate that a rising or a setting did not occur during that 24-hr. interval. **During the "Window of [Photographic] Opportunity" I have set that period to midnight (00:00), even though it would most likely fall a few minutes after midnight on the following day. Please note that these times are shown in Mountain Standard Time (if you actually use this chart, you'll need to add one hour for Daylight Time, which would be in effect during July).
Starry Night Goal: If you follow these guidelines in avoiding moonlight, twilight from the sun, and man-made light pollution, your reward can be shots like this:
|Milky Way over Teton Range and Jackson Lake ~ © Royce Bair|
Royce Bair is the editor of this blog and the photographer of the above images. Here is my gallery of NightScape images. My schedule of workshops, tutorials, and other events is available here.
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