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Can You Explain This Line in This Super Blue Blood Moon Photo?


Destin Sandlin of SmarterEveryDay was out shooting the recent Super Blue Blood moon when something weird happened. As soon as the moon “touched” the tip of a model of the Saturn 5 rocket in Alabama, USA, a dark line appeared in his photos.

Confused by this illusion, Destin has taken to YouTube to try and find the answer, posting the 7-minute video above. But while the actual illusion may remain a mystery, how Destin captured this unique super blue blood moon image is very inspiring. The project took a whole month to plan, ensuring every little detail was correct.

By using moon tracking apps, Destin was able to work out when the moon would touch the tip of the rocket. But the angle required him to shoot from the city, with no clear line of sight. Using a drone to see how high he needed to be for a clear line of sight, Destin eventually decided to rent a 60-foot-high cherry picker.

Once in position, he waited for the moment the moon touched the rocket for a dramatic lunar image.

“You think if you plan something for a month, I’d be all excited as it’s happening,” says Destin. “But I was confused. I thought there was some kind of defect with my camera’s sensor.”

And regarding the line in the photo, here are some of the explanations offered in the top comments on YouTube:

Flight SWA1031 […] is a regularly scheduled St. Louis to Houston flight. Flight track puts it over Batesville Arkansas at 6 am. Easy way to find this, zoom out on Destin’s moon map, the moon bar points to Luxora AK, heading of 290.8, keep going to about Ash Flat, the plane’s track and the moon’s cross around here. I could be wrong. But the jet stream was pushing at 60 knots to the east, so by the time Destin took the photo 30 minutes later, contrail would be closer to Jonesboro. Plane could have been under the horizon, contrail over maybe? [#]

When reflecting telescopes view stars, the support arms for the forward mirror disrupts the light making the stars appear to have points coming off of them. Perhaps, since the object blocking the light was further away and taking up less FOV than the light source, it created a line of darkness from the object rather than lines of light coming from the light source. I’d like to add that the number of support arms determines how many “rays” are in the final image (3 arms, 3 points; 5 arms, 5 points). Since the tip of the rocket was the blocking object, it would stand to reason that there would be only one line, or a series tiny dots that only look like a line. [#]

Looks like a thin cloud layer viewed from the side only visible when backlit. If you look at the images the line moves a little and does not line up with the rocket top on the last images. This makes good sense since the clouds move. [#]

What do you think caused the line?

(via SmarterEveryDay via reddit)