Actual Step

Taking Pictures of the Moon

Updated: 2023-10-27

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Equipment SetUp

  • To get high contrast images of the Moon, you should avoid full Moons, because at full Moon the Sun shines almost perpendicularly on the lunar surface and there are hardly any shadows cast by craters and mountains on the Moon.
  • Most interesting are the areas near the terminator, which is the transition between light and dark in all phases of the moon except full and new moon.
  • The easiest way to photograph the entire Moon is with a high-zoom camera or a telephoto lens with a focal length of at least 640mm (for APS-C cameras) or 900mm (for full-frame cameras).
  • If the lens or camera has an optical (or electronic) stabilizer, you can also take these photos handheld. Without a stabilizer, you will need at least a tripod. The moon is quite bright (up to -12.74 at full moon) so the exposure time can be kept short. Use the widest possible aperture, such as 2.0 and a higher ISO value. Vary the exposure time and take some test shots.
  • For lunar details, as well as planetary surfaces, you will need much higher magnifications/focal lengths and the same equipment as for deep sky photography, but with different techniques for capturing the Moon
    • Instead of taking individual photographs of the lunar surface (or planetary surfaces), it is highly recommended to take short video clips of about 10,000 to 40,000 frames and then use a method called the lucky image method, which allows you select the best 10 or 20% of all individual frames and stack them into a single final image..
  • If you plan to take pictures of lunar details, take a look at this very detailed map of the moon at for orientation.

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