Monday, January 2, 2012 at 8:56PM
For those unfamiliar with photographing celestial events, there's both an art and a science to capturing these events but there's also a need for some luck since weather plays an important role in how well celestial events can be viewed. I can remember several times I've planned out shoots at a specific location where a meteor shower or an eclipse would take place only to be skunked by cloud cover. It's a challenging endeavor for sure.
To start out, here's a list of Full Moons and New Moons for 2012. New Moon is when the un-illuminated portion of the Moon faces almost directly toward Earth, so that the Moon is not visible to the naked eye. This is best for shooting star trails and meteor showers since ambient light in the sky is reduced.
|Full Moons||New Moons|
August 2 and 31
For details on photographing the moon, check out our article titled, "How to Photograph the Moon".
While the aim of this article was not to provide a complete list of celestial events, it does aim to provide a list of the most notable events of 2012. Here are a few that will definitely be worth watching:
2) May 6: Biggest Full Moon of 2012 - On this day, the Moon will only be separated from the Earth by only 221,801 miles...but who's counting?
3) May 21: Annular Eclipse of the Sun - The path of this eclipse starts over eastern China and sweeps northeast across southern and central Japan. The path continues northeast then east, passing just south of Alaska's Aleutian Island chain. The path then turns to the southeast, making landfall in the western United States along the California-Oregon coast. It will pass over central Nevada, southern Utah, northern Arizona, the extreme southwest corner of Colorado and most of New Mexico before coming to an end over northern Texas.
Locations that will witness this sight include Eureka and Reading, California, Carson City, Reno and Ely, Nevada, Bryce Canyon in Utah, The Grand Canyon, Albuquerque and Santa Fe in N.M., and just prior to sunset for Lubbock, Texas. A partial eclipse of the sun will be visible over a large swath of the United States and Canada, including Alaska and Hawaii, but no eclipse will be visible near and along the Atlantic Seaboard.
4) Aug. 12: Perseid Meteor Shower - This one is always good! The Perseids are considered to be among the best of the annual displays thanks to its high rates of up to 90 per hour as well as great reliability.
6) Dec. 13-14: Geminid Meteor Shower - If there is one meteor display guaranteed to be worth the effort, it's this one. You can start observing as soon as darkness falls on the evening of Dec. 13 as Gemini starts coming up above the eastern horizon and continue through the rest of the night. Around 2 a.m. when Gemini is almost directly overhead, you might see as many as two meteor sightings per minute...120 per hour!
Photographer's Ephemeris - is a software tool that can be used on your Android phone or on your PC that will help you plan your shoot relative to the rising and setting of the sun and moon each day for any location worldwide. It also provides the path across the sky that both will follow. I have both versions and I use them regularly so I have no trouble recommending them as I find them to be extremely useful...even essential. You'll want to run the full moon and new moon dates provided above through this tool relative to your area as each hemisphere will experience these events at slightly different times. The PC version (when I last checked) is free while the Android version costs a few dollars.
For your Android Phone
For your PC