Blue Moon Rising

by George Murphy on September 2, 2012

Friday’s full moon rise offered up a rare “Blue Moon.” No, the label doesn’t refer to the color of the Moon, but rather its timing. Whenever there is a second full Moon within a calendar month, we call it a “Blue Moon.” It’s a rare enough event to have inspired the phrase, “Once in a Blue Moon.” We won’t see any more months with multiple full moons until the year 2018.

A "blue moon" rises over Nevada, as seen from 30,000 ft. en route from Boise to San Francisco.

I was fortunate enough to have a 30.000 ft. vantage point when Friday’s full Moon slipped above the cloud covered horizon in the skies over Nevada, as the setting sun washed everything in beautiful dusk colors. I was on my way back to the Bay Area from Idaho. Anticipating a possible opportunity to glimpse the moon breaking the horizon during the flight, I’d picked a seat on the eastern facing side of the plane. My efforts to catch Monday’s moonrise were almost thwarted when the upright wingtip of my Southwest Airlines plane threatened to cover the whole thing, as we periodically adjusted our course during the flight back to California.


Technical Notes:
I shot with a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III using a Canon EF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 L lens at an exposure of 1/250 sec. @ ƒ/9 using an ISO of setting of 400, and taking advantage of the image stabilization feature on the lens to help keep things sharp as the airplane shifted around on the air currents. It was also a bit hit and miss pulling off a sharp shot through the airplane’s plastic windows. The acrylic that these windows are made of is not so great from an optical perspective, especially when you put a telephoto lens up against them; so it took a bit of searching to find the sharpest areas of the window to shoot through.


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