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Going after the Super Snow Moon, the brightest moon of 2019

Close-up shot of the moon

The Super Wolf Blood Moon in January was only half a success because the clouds arrived to “eclipse the eclipse”. That meant I needed to try this again with the new supermoon in February, the Super Snow Moon.

What is a supermoon anyway?

Obviously, you know that the moon follows an elliptical orbit around the Earth. Within this trajectory, the perigee is the closest point to our planet and the apogee is the farthest. So a supermoon is either a full moon or a new moon that (nearly) coincides with the perigee. The opposite phenomenon exists too, and is called a micromoon.
Of the possible 12 or 13 full/new moons each year, usually only three or four may be classified as supermoons. During this phenomenon, the moon appears roughly 15% larger in diameter. It might appear even bigger though, particularly after sunset when it’s near the horizon and the illusion is at its most apparent.

Why the names?

The full moon names were given by the Native Americans tribes. They kept track of the seasons by giving these distinctive names to the entire month in which the moon occurred.
I recommend you visit Space.com for all the details, but in the meantime here’s the list for 2019:

  • January: Wolf Moon (also total lunar eclipse)
  • February: Snow Moon (the largest of this year)
  • March: Worm Moon
  • April: Pink Moon
  • May: Flower Moon
  • June: Strawberry Moon
  • July: Buck Moon
  • August: Sturgeon Moon
  • September: Harvest Moon (the smallest of this year)
  • October: Hunter Moon
  • November: Beaver Moon
  • December: Cold Moon

Preparation…

I was excited to go back hunting the supermoon again, also considering this was the largest moon of the year. Even though I wasn’t going “fully armed” with a lens hired for the occasion, I was still making myself ready for it.
This time I decided to use my old Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 APO EX DG HSM from my Nikon years, with a Metabones adapter.
Not as long a reach as last time, but the moon would be a bit closer anyway

I was a bit put off by the forecast: London being London, it’s always ever so unpredictable but it was looking very cloudy. Location-wise, I didn’t want to go to Waterloo Bridge again (still one of the best spots with a telephoto lens), so after a bit of research I decided to go to Southbank. I met there with fellow photo-hunters Martyn and Matt, but we were soon approached by security who informed us that tripods were not allowed in the area.

This is now common in London, unfortunately. I’m often approached this way and refused the use of tripods or anything that “looks professional”. I understand partially the reasoning behind that, but it gets ridiculous at times. I once had my camera on a windowsill, but even that was not allowed: only holding it in my hands qualified as “non-professional”.

Anyway, we then decided to move to the pier and find a way to keep our cameras stable. Then waited for the moon to rise.

… and shooting.

Indeed, the weather wasn’t helping. Clouds were all over, with only a few breaks here and there. It was moonrise and yet we couldn’t see anything but clouds.
We remained hopeful, because of the breaches we could see in the clouds wall, and sure enough some light started to peak through. 5 minutes later, the moon was there!

The full moon rising behind the Scalpel building in London

I could have seen a bigger moon of course, should it was still at horizon level, but I was already content with seeing it at all.
All the excitement faded within a few minutes because the moon disappeared behind the clouds again. Martyn and I waited another half hour but it all started to look hopeless, so we packed and left that spot.

And then…

On the way home, we passed in front of the London Eye on the opposite side of the river, and noticed that there was a glimpse of moonlight again. Another couple of photographer were also there, hoping to get a shot.
And again, it happened! That all went so quick I dind’t even have time to take my tripod out and therefore tried to make use of the parapet there. I moved from one spot to another, because of course the London Eye pods were also turning and I wanted to align them with the moon… Oh, and I had a full manual lens on so I had to keep adjusting it.
But in the end I made it! I managed to take the shot I wanted.

The full moon behind the London Eye wheel. A close-up shot with a long telephoto lens.

And frankly, when I saw it on my computer at home, I couldn’t believe it was this sharp. ๐Ÿ™‚
I immediately published this in my Instagram Stories!

Next month will be the last supermoon of this year that is visible from here. Let’s see if I can pull out something from that too.
Stay tuned!


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