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Supermoon 2012 - HiMARC ground testing images the Moon in high resolution

February 18, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Supermoon 2012

   Obligatory soundtrack: Zapmama's "Supermoon"

  On May 6th, 2012 a Supermoon made the night sky a bit brighter than most. Supermoons, or as wikipedia eloquently puts it, “perigee syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system” is the moment when a full moon occurs at perigee relative to Earth. Usually between 222,000 (357,000 kilometers) and 252,000 miles (406,000 km) apart, at perigee the moon is only 221,802 miles away. At this point, it appears 14% larger and 30% brighter than full moons near apogee.

Supermoon_comparison

A comparison of last year's March supermoon (right) with an average moon from December 2010. Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Marcoaliaslama

   But the Supermoon of May 6th was even brighter than most: this year the timing for reaching full moon and full perigee were highly aligned—only off by a single minute (often the two are off by a full hour). The schedules seemed almost perfectly coordinated, making this Supermoon among the brighter and larger moons of the entire 18-year Saros cycle.

   Unlike most astrophotography subjects that demand remote shooting locations with minimal light pollution, Ashish and I were able to photograph the moon from a park in the middle of Palo Alto. Using HiMARC's atmospheric lensing processing pipeline, an 8'' Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, and a high frame-rate camera we collected over 3 Terabytes of data that were later processed to create a series of large composite images for a full panorama. See the HiMARC page for resolution details and more on atmospheric lensing.


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