Saturday, February 14, 2015

Feb. 9 Moon Rise

I first got actively interested in catching the moon rise over Kagoshima back on Jan. 31st, when I saw the moon in the daytime sky from near the conversation school I teach at. At the time, the sky was very clear, but moon rise itself was going to be when I was at work. The weather is still really erratic, with clouds blowing in overnight and then disappearing the following day, so the first opportunity when availability matched up with clear weather was on Feb. 3rd. At that point, moon rise was at 5:45 PM, when the sky was still really bright, and the moon didn't become visible for at least 30 minutes after it had risen. Further, the moon came up in the northeast, in the rough area of Aira City.

I wanted a night shot, where the moon would be visible just clearing the horizon. Again, things didn't work out until almost a week later, on Feb 9th. According to Time and's moonrise calculator, moonrise would occur at 10:04 PM. I got out of the apartment at 9:45, and reached the top of Shiroyama hill right at 10:05. And, no moon. I set the camera and tripod up, and fiddled with the interval timer for the first time since I bought the camera, and still no moon. I paced around a lot while the camera took pictures of Aira and the north side of the volcano, listening to Kraftwerk on my MP3 player for an hour, and still no moon. During this time, clouds were blowing in from the west, behind me, over to Sakurajima. Finally, around 11:15 PM, I could make out a soft glow in the clouds at the south end of the volcano peak, which was towards the right edge of the camera's view. A few minutes later, the moon came up, fast, and I only had about 10 minutes to get my shots before it fully cleared the top of the volcano rim and started getting lost in the clouds. The moon rise did look pretty good to the naked eye, though. And the reason it took so long was that, in just one week, the point where the moon came up had shifted southward (clockwise) 16 degrees, and it had to clear the volcano first.

With all of this, I took close to 60 photos, but only 3 came out at all good enough to justify keeping them. I got back home close to midnight. The air temp was near 32 degrees F, and my fingers were stiff even though I did have gloves on (I grabbed them at the last minute when I headed out the door. I really haven't needed gloves all winter because generally the temps haven't been getting below 50 degrees much this year.) The sky was almost completely clouded over by then. At 2:30 AM, as I was getting ready to go to bed, I took the garbage out for the Tuesday morning pickup. The sky was almost perfectly clear, and a number of stars glowed brightly. I was tempted to take the camera back out to the Kotsuki river to see if I could get photos of Orion's Belt, but I was too tired, and the Belt wasn't visible between the buildings from where I was standing. I'll just have to wait for another night, and practice stacking photos then.

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