Tonight (May 26), the night sky will be lit up by a 'Super Flower Blood Moon', the second of three consecutive supermoons in 2021 (and also the biggest of the three). It will create stunning views, and provides the perfect time to elevate your photography with some incredible snaps.
This event will appear for much of the Pacific rim, including large areas of North America, Australasia and Southeast Asia. If you're lucky enough to be in the right area to see the event, you'll want to know exactly how to photograph it to capture its full majesty. Read on for top tips on how to view and capture this unusual blood moon like a pro. For more general photography tips, see our guide to top smartphone photography tips, and be sure to up your game with the best camera around.
What is a Super Flower Blood Moon?(opens in new tab)
A ‘blood moon’ is the name given to the moon during a lunar eclipse. As the Earth passes between the sun and the moon, the moon is cast into shadow. But instead of turning black, a deep red colour is created by sunlight being refracted though the Earth’s atmosphere: red wavelengths are bent into the space behind Earth, while blue and violent wavelengths are scattered. And because this year's blood moon happens during a supermoon (when the moon is full, and closer to the Earth than usual), it's known as a Super Blood Moon, which is even more special because it is bigger and brighter. Added to that, it's happening in May, when the usual full moon is called Flower Moon – hence 'Super Flower Blood Moon'.
Atmospheric conditions dictate the exact colour of the moon – the clearer the atmosphere, the brighter the red colour will appear.
The good news is that unlike a total solar eclipse, a blood moon isn’t dangerous to look at. You don’t need to wear protective glasses – so pull up a pew and watch the haunting celestial sight unfold in front of your eyes.
When is the Super Blood Moon 2021?(opens in new tab)
- Wednesday 26 May 2021 Super Flower Moon: Tonight's event is also a 'Blood Moon' because of a lunar eclipse in Australia, western America and Southeast Asia.
Also be ready for:
- June 24 2021 Super Strawberry Moon
Where’s the best place to see the Super Blood Moon?(opens in new tab)
The best views will be from the west coast of the USA, Mexico and South America (shortly before moonset in the west), Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand (in the middle of the night – high in the sky) and eastern Asia (soon after moonrise in the east, close to dusk).
The best place to see it will be in the countryside, away from any light pollution. This handy eclipse tracker (opens in new tab) can help you find the optimum place to see the blood moon based on your location.
3 pro tips for photographing the blood moon 2021(opens in new tab)
According to our friends over at Digital Camera World, composition opportunities in the key areas should be rife with this lunar eclipse – but it is a short one. It's only 15 minutes so you'll have to be quick. Usually a blood moon is photographed high in the sky, so it’s rare to be able to capture it within a landscape (though the low-altitude in the USA means you'll have a chance this time – if that's where you are). And with the moon’s brightness suppressed, it should be easy to take a good shot.
Here are three pro tips for photographing tonight's lunar eclipse…
01. Find a clear sky and horizon
To maximise your chances of seeing a blood moon, you’ll need a clear horizon and a clear sky, says Digital Camera World (opens in new tab). Try apps like PhotoPills (opens in new tab) and The Photographer's Ephemeris (opens in new tab) to plan your shot. Look for buildings or trees that the moon could rise between, or seek out a pond or lake for reflections. And importantly, be ready and keep mobile to find the perfect place to snap away.
02. Get the right kit
For the best shot, you'll need a DSLR or mirrorless camera with a 300mm telephoto lens on a tripod – but one that is over 600mm long.– will be better for capturing the red of the moon. You could also use a bridge camera with a build-in superzoom, or you could use your camera's LCD screen to find the moon zoomed in, then sharpen up the image manually or using auto-focus.
Bring a wide-angle lens, says DCW. Because the moon will be seen at low-altitude in the USA, it's a great chance to incorporate a foreground into the shot.
03. Nail your shutter speed
Your biggest challenge will be avoiding a blurry image – so use a high shutter speed to achieve adequate sharpness. Don’t use use a shutter speed slower than 1/100sec, and keep sensitivity within ISO 200 to 800.
Download three stunning blood moon images
Need some stunning blood moon images in your library? If your own photos don't quite cut it tonight, we've found three beautiful blood moon images you can download now (opens in new tab) for your designs.