Photo captured and provided by NASA

Astrophotography fans will be treated to the sight of a rare 'super blood wolf Moon' this weekend, and lots of helpful people are offering advice on how best to photograph it. The event will bring together the drama of the year’s first full moon at the same time as a total lunar eclipse – and the Moon passing very close to the earth. Mix all three factors and we get a very large-looking full Moon that appears a deep copper color in the sky.

Depending on where you live the blood Moon will be visible on the evening of Sunday 20th or the early morning of Monday 21st, but only those in the Americas, northern and western Europe, the eastern Pacific and the north-eastern tip of Russia will be able to see the full eclipse. Some in western Africa may get a partial eclipse.

The event will occur as the Moon passes into the earth’s shadow. As this happens sunlight is refracted by the earth’s atmosphere, bending around the earth to faintly illuminate the Moon in a warm red light – hence the ‘blood Moon’ name. As the moon will appear relatively dim in the sky it’s a great chance to get a manageable exposure to include the Moon and stars in a single shot. 'Wolf' in the name is present because it will be the first full moon of the year.

Resources:

  • PhotoPills has produced a video explaining how to use its app to determine where the Moon will appear and its size, so you can plan your foreground and composition.
  • Mr Eclipse is a constant source of information on different ways to capture the spectacle, with tips and techniques for a wide range of shots.
  • Fred Espenak from Mr Eclipse has also written a piece for the Nikon USA website on the subject, and shows some pretty stunning pictures.
  • Newsweek has a piece by physics professor Walter Freeman explaining a little more how and why this phenomenon occurs.
  • The Royal Astronomical Society also has information and advice for observers in the UK, where the full eclipse will occur at 05.12GMT. The official guidelines state that to enjoy the sight ‘all you have to do is dress warmly and go outside.’ Sensible advice.