First Quarter Moon, January 25, 2007

Yesterday I decided to take some photos of the moon. I want to have a better understanding of the moon and its journey through our sky. It has a 29.5 day cycle each month and is one of the most important celestial time markers. Its size and shape vary in ways that seem mysterious but are predictable if you are a careful observer. Its is also a beautiful object for photography.

I decided to go to the Old Arch Bridge conservation land and see if Blue Bird hill, the old garbage dump, could provide a good setting for some images including the moon. It was near its zenith at 3:30 when I started out so I knew I’d need an extreme angle to get anything but the moon in the frame.
It was so cold yesterday that Lad didn’t want to stay with me while I took photos — he keep asking me to follow him back to the car. It was ‘only’ 20 degrees. Today it was 1 degree when I got up at 6:45! I think I’ll do computer work today!

Last night’s moon was in the first quarter phase. The moon rose at 10:20 am in Westford Massachusetts, having set at 11:41 pm the day before. It didn’t set until 12:58 am the next day.

The photos were taken at close to the time of the moon’s transit — the point where it is at the observer’s meridian, half way between rising and setting. This made it difficult to photograph with my cheapie ballhead and old tropod legs. On my shopping list are better replacements for each. The evening yesterday proved to be bitter cold with a crystal clear sky, stars shining and moon very clear as it headed to set, looking like it had tilted and was falling asleep.

For anyone interested in a better understanding of the moon’s phases I recommend the Naval Observatory web site.

Sun lit tree and first quarter moon