Just a quick reminder that the moon has returned to the evening sky. Look for a nail-biter crescent Monday, Nov. 16, low in the southwest in the same direction as the sunset horizon glow. Bring binoculars for an even better view.
Full-moonrises and lunar crescents are my favorite celestial photographic subjects. Both occur during twilight when the sky is often at its most colorful. Who can resist the Mona Lisa-like smile of a young moon or the sheer natural elegance of the crescent form?
I normally put my camera on a tripod and use a telephoto lens, but if your main camera is a cellphone, the sky is bright enough in early twilight to get a decent, handheld image of the crescent while also including a scene such as silhouetted tree, powerline or water tower. If you're lucky, colorful clouds also might be about. Since both the sky and moon are bright, use an ISO of 400 or 800. If your phone doesn't offer that option, the automatic setting should work OK, too.
Be careful you don't "over-zoom" the image while attempting to enlarge the moon relative to the scene or you'll lose sharpness and resolution. Zoom in about halfway at most. Also, remember to experiment with the exposure by looking at the screen after you take the picture. You can adjust additional aspects of the photo such as brilliance and tone by tapping on the image and clicking the phone's "edit" feature after the picture is taken.
As the moon orbits the Earth and its angle between the sun and our planet widens, the narrow crescent thickens and its apparent distance from the sun increases. This week it will climb to meet Jupiter and Saturn on Wednesday and Thursday — two more opportunities for you to make a pretty picture.
"Astro" Bob King is a freelance writer for the Duluth News Tribune. Read more of his work at duluthnewstribune.com/astrobob.