Capturing Both the Crescent Moon and ‘Earthshine’ in One Image

This is something I’ve been wanting to attempt for a while, but the skies have not be clear enough to do so. Iowa skies in fact have been almost constantly cloudy of late – or a least when one wants to shoot the moon.

Lunacycle: Photographing and Animating a Lunar Cycle

Since November 2011 I’d been thinking about an astrophotography project: take a photo of the moon each day from full moon to full moon, then combine it into a seamless movie that looks as if someone had moved the sun around the moon for one minute. I found similar videos, but most were simulations done in software, or photographic ones that weren’t very smooth. Seemed simple enough, mostly because I didn’t see the complications that would come along with this project caused by... physics.

My plan involved setting the same exposure each night starting with the full moon, and let the moon’s dark side gradually move across its face while the lit side stayed about the same brightness. Adjust the photos’ angles to match each other, throw all of them into Final Cut Pro X and add cross dissolve transitions between them, and I’d get a smooth movie showing every phase of the moon.