New Year Supermoon or Wolf Moon over Roches Point in Cork Harbour

January 04, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

I was back in my old hometown of Cork for a few days over the New Year and despite the stormy weather of the past week or so, New Year's Day itself was not too bad. I've been doing moonshots around Dublin Bay for years so I was keen to have a go around Cork Harbour for the Wolf Moon which was also a Supermoon - although I always think the use of the word "super" is a bit over the top for a slightly larger than average looking Moon when it comes a tad closer to the Earth than normal. For a truly super moon, you'd need to go back about 4 billion years when it may have been 15 times closer to the Earth shortly after it was formed. Photographing it may have been difficult though . . .

As usual, I turned to The Photographer's Ephemeris which showed me this good alignment looking north east from Myrtleville over Roches Point Lighthouse at the mouth of the harbour. When I arrived, I was delighted to find a perfect full Moon in a clear sky - the line up worked best from just outside the well known Bunnyconnellan Restaurant. I exposed the first shot for two seconds at f16 and ISO 100 at 190mm using my Canon 100-400mm MkI lens on a Canon 7DMkII - as always on a tripod for these long exposures. Using the 500 rule and taking account of my crop sensor, 2 seconds is about the longest shutter speed I can use to keep the moon sharp at a focal length of around 200mm.

Once I had this shot, I walked back towards Myrtleville Beach to see people playing at the waters edge - eventually one of them stood still for long enough to make a sharp silhouette against the reflected moonlight. This second shot was was exposed for 1.3 seconds at f11 at ISO 800 at 250mm.  It was taken at 5.16pm, twenty three minutes after the previous image which was itself taken twenty minutes after sunset. Note how there is almost four stops less light in the second shot taken at the end of civil twilight than in the earlier shot taken in the middle of civil twilight - three for the difference in ISO and one for the difference in aperture. Actually, its a little bit less because of the slightly shorter exposure. I guess the difference would actually be a bit more if there wasn't a full moon. 

The final shot was taken from the beach itself at 5.40pm for 30 seconds at f11, ISO200 at 28mm using the EFS 17-55mm lens. By this time, well into nautical twilight, it's impossible to avoid blowing out the moon and I'm not worried about the 500 rule because its just a blob anyway. Instead I want a good long exposure to smooth the sea. I was complaining recently that I didn't get many moonshots in 2017 and I'm normally very pleased if a twilight trip nets a single good shot - so I'm thrilled to get three on a single evening on the first day of the year. Hopefully its a good omen as there will be thirteen full moons in 2018. As the next one on January 31st will the second of the month, it's a so-called blue moon - although it will be just the same colour as normal in this part of the world, at least. In Asia, Australia and North America this "blue moon" will also coincide with a total lunar eclipse so it will actually be a much redder moon than normal - a "blood moon".

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