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How a Photographer Landed the Supermoon Photo of the Century

Curators’ Corner

How a Photographer Landed the Supermoon Photo of the Century

Perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system, or the “supermoon” to astronomical laymen, is the largest and closest full moon of the year. Since the moon does not travel around the earth in a perfect circle, but rather on an elliptical path, there are times when it is closer to Earth’s crust than normal. According to NASA, when the moon is nearest to the earth, it can appear 14% larger and 30% brighter than when at its furthest. 2016 was particularly special, as the moon was closer than it has been to Earth since 1948, making the extra-supermoon of November 14 the largest in 69 years.

Photographers all around the world were able to capture some truly spectacular shots of November’s phenomenon. However, Kris Smith’s stellar image of the International Space Station’s path across the supermoon caught even the attention of NASA, which posted the photo as its Astronomy Pic of the Day.


Using a Canon 5D Mark III attached to an 11-inch telescope, Smith meticulously timed split-second pictures of the ISS passing in front of the full moon before compositing 10 shots into one super lunar image.

In an email to Business insider, Smith detailed how he had been tracking this opportunity “for several years using,” which alerts the amateur astronomer to upcoming celestial observations.

Smith explained, “[A] week before the ISS crossing I received an email alert and approximate path. The path was only about two miles from my house. As the day grew closer, I picked a location, the local high school, and [set up] my telescope on the practice field.”

The third and final supermoon of 2016 will occur on December 14, so don’t pack up your telescopes and cameras just yet. You won’t have another opportunity like this again until November 2034.

Don’t forget to share your super moon photos with Duggal on Instagram!