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Urban Safari: Spring’s Pink Super Moon

Is 221,772 miles of "social distancing" far enough?

This Spring’s Pink Supermoon was closer to Earth than the moon normally is (221,772 miles vs 238,900 miles, approximately). Because of that, it appeared about 7% larger than the typical full moon.

It is call the Pink Moon not because of the color, but for the pink wildflower Phlox subulata (Creeping Phlox, Moss Phlox, Moss Pink, Rock Pink), which blooms in eastern North America around this time of the year.

Supermoon: Waxing 98% (Night #1)

This particular Urban Safari outing took two nights to complete. On the first night the Supermoon was bright but covered by a hazy layer of clouds. We waited and waited, but it never really got out from behind the patch of fuzziness. We decided to delay the imaging until the following night in order to see more of the surface features.

Even though it was a cloudy night, we didn’t want to pack it up without ANY shots of the Supermoon. Knowing we wouldn’t get clear lunar surface features, we decided to focus on using the hazy glow to backlight some tree branches, which created an effect interesting-enough to make the night out worth our efforts.

We also pointed the iPhone at the part of the sky that was clear. Fortunately for us, Venus was out strutting her stuff. To get a wider shot, we used our new iPhone 11 Pro Max. The iPhone 11 Pro Max continues to impress, especially since this shot of the Boston night sky was taken in the midst of the city, using just the standard app!!!

Supermoon: Waning 98% (Night #2)

The sky was a lot more cooperative the following night, and knowing, because of the coronavirus situation, that we weren’t going to be going anywhere the next day, we stayed up waay past our bed time, supermooning 🙂

The temperature was crisp, the air was still, and there were very few heat currents; a trifecta for amazingly good “seeing.” All of the conditions aligned, so we took full advantage of it. We ended up taking over a hundred shots using the Celestron-Questar-iPhone setup that night.

Because of the curvature of the moon, it is difficult to get all of the features into focus at once. However, with the iPhone/Celestron NexYZ combo, we were able to easily refocus on different areas of the Moon, enabling us to create a composite image of the Super Moon. Using 18 different images, stacked, blended, and processed so the sharper parts of each separate image are combined, we created a final “super” image.

The process used to take hours of painstaking work involving a motorized precision bellows setup and lots of tedious post processing steps. Now, we can do it with a few automated Photoshop commands in just seconds!!! How super is that?

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