Astro Bob blog: When art meets natureA lucky lineup of the cosmic and artistic happened last night and may happen again tonight.
By: Bob King, Duluth News Tribune
When art and nature meet
The moon and Venus join the "Wild Ricing Moon" sculpture on the University of Minnesota-Duluth campus last night. The 89-feet-tall piece, designed by John David Mooney, represents the traditional wild rice harvest of late summer and includes figures of a bird (top), rice stalk (middle) and full moon (circle). Photo: Bob King
We walked out of the University planetarium yesterday night and caught a fine alignment of Venus, the crescent moon and the Wild Ricing Moon sculpture on campus. I don't think I've ever seen such a striking arrangement of nature and art, so I ran back to the car, grabbed the camera and took a few photos before the moon set.
This photo of the waxing moon shows last night shows a sprinkling of craters and the most prominent lunar sea visible at crescent phase called Mare Crisium (Sea of Crisis). It the darkish oval slightly above the middle of the crescent and fairly easy to see with the naked eye. Details: 300mm lens at f/6.3, 1/30". Credit: Kent Rengo
I wasn't the only one out that night eyeing the moon. Kent Rengo of Duluth had his camera trained on the lunar crescent and sent me a picture this morning. While the waxing crescent moon is rather low in the southwest this month, if you're out before 10-10:30, you'll catch it in numerous scenic locations. I say "scenic" because a low moon means great opportunities for photos that include an interesting foreground object.
Here's how the sky will look about a half hour after sunset tonight (Thurs.) with the moon, Venus and Mercury spread across the western sky. While Venus and the moon are easy catches, Mercury will be very low. Use binoculars to spot it. Created with Stellarium
How to get shoot a twilight moon/Venus photo? Set your camera's sensitivity to ISO 800 and open your lens up all the way to it maximum wide setting (f/2.8-f/3.5); that should let you take pictures around 1/30" a half-hour to 45 minutes after sunset. If you're steady-handed, you can manage 1/30" without a tripod. To improve the odds of nabbing a sharp photo however, nothing beats a tripod. The main consideration is thinking about what would make a nice foreground. As you consider the possibilities, keep in mind that the moon will be nearly due west tonight, so you'll need to find somewhere east of your scenic landmark to take the photo. If you get a picture you like, I'd love to share it with our readers. Please send me a copy at email@example.com along with a little information on where you took it, exposure and the like, and I'll consider it for publication in the blog tomorrow.