One of These is Not Like The Other

Take a close look at the following photograph (you’ll have to click on it to see the whole thing). Can you tell the difference between the two moons? The one on the left I took a few weeks ago, and the right one I took during the lunar eclipse on the 15th of April.

The difference should be obvious, but I’ll let you study it awhile. Below is how I discovered why they are so different.

One is not like the other

When I took pictures of the lunar eclipse, I kept thinking my shots were out of focus. When I take pictures of the moon in normal phases as shown on the left, you can see a lot more detail such as meteor craters.

During the eclipse, the moon was soft and flat, no details at all as you can see in the image on the right. I kept thinking my lens was out of focus. Even trying to focus manually didn’t yield better results. I even went so far as to clean my glasses and my lens to see if they had fogged up (It was, after all only 20 degrees outside), but nothing changed. I started to wonder if my lens was faulty (which would have sucked because it’s brand new and not cheap).

After talking and sharing eclipse photos with another person online, he uploaded another picture of the beginning of the eclipse and mentioned how it looked exactly like a half-moon; not interesting at all. I studied his eclipse photo and noticed his had the same flat softness. Then everything clicked.

I don’t like taking pictures of a full moon, because there are no shadows. No shadows, no texture. It looks flat. Boring. Because our view is directly in front of the sun, no shadows are possible. Lunar eclipses are no different. It’s still a full moon; the Earth merely moves in between the moon and Sun, and the only possible shadow is that of the Earth.

Pretty cool when you think about it.

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