On Nights Like These, There is Only One Target in the Sky

On Nights Like These, There is Only One Target in the Sky

March 15th, 2022, 9:57 p.m. local time
Conditions: 41 degrees Fahrenheit / 5 degrees Celsius; clear sky, mild & cold wind, Waxing Gibbous Moon

For better or worse, when the Moon approaches Full, like tonight, it nearly always becomes the most obvious astronomical target to view and photograph.  The rare exceptions are the bright planets – Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn – but they are not in this evening sky (come back later 2022).  Fainter deep sky objects are washed out by the Moon’s glare.  So this is hardly a romantic supposition and merely a practical reality, that the late Waxing Gibbous Moon takes over the hours after Sunset.

Tonight’s equipment setup was slightly different from Sunday’s.  Instead of a stock 1.25″ eyepiece, I went with my Q70 32mm 2-inch, my best glass at that size.  Within this wider field of view, the Moon appears a bit smaller over the 40mm eyepiece, but the clarity is still fine.  The Moon is so big and bright, there is little difference.  A truer distinction would come, for example, in examining nebulae, where the superior glass would have an advantage.

I also used a NightCap image over those from the iPhone’s stock camera.  The increasing brightness of the Moon meant NightCap’s exposure flexibility came into play, as I was able to dial the exposure down to one two-thousandth of a second.  Another remedy would be to place my “Moon filter” onto the front of the eyepiece, which limits the total light and makes the glaring Lunar surface easier to view for both human eyes and cameras.  However, through experience I have found little difference in final results of the Moon filter over a faster camera exposure.

One of my goals with the Moon is to photograph it when completely Full.  In March, that happens on Friday March 18th at 2:20 am my time.  That may be too late, or too early, for me, especially on a Friday, but there will be a few more reasonable windows in 2022 that I will try to make, weather permitting.

Telescope and photography settings:

  • 254mm Dobsonian (homemade)
  • 1/2000 sec exposure
  • ISO 24
  • F-stop: f/1.8
  • Focal length: 4mm
  • Q70 32mm eyepiece (2.00″)
  • iPhone XS with NightCap app on eyepiece mount
  • Touchups in PaintShop Pro and AfterShot Pro


I write frequently about astrophotography, technology advice, and my other interests like science fiction. I have over 30 years of experience in computer programming, information technology, and project management.

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