Our infographic from last weekend generated a ton of shares, comments, likes and other social media goodness, in addition to questions about what would be visible in other locations around the world.

Because you asked so nicely, here’s Blood Supermoon Infographic Version 2!

Blood Supermoon Sep 2015

Here are some example shot plans that you can open in TPE for each of the locations shown above:

San Francisco Web iOS
Portland, Oregon Web iOS
Devil’s Tower, Wyoming Web iOS
New York Web iOS
Rio de Janeiro Web iOS
London Web iOS
Berlin Web iOS
Cape Town Web iOS
Cairo Web iOS
Moscow Web iOS

Want to plan a shot for your exact location? You can use The Photographer’s Ephemeris app to do it:

Get TPE for Desktop

Get it on Google Play

What about down under?

Sadly, no eclipse for most of Asia Pacific this time around. As you can see below, you’ll be enjoying a busy Monday with the sun high in the sky during the eclipse:

No eclipse in Aus and NZ

Some tips for shooting the lunar eclipse

When looking for optimal conditions to photograph the blood supermoon, remember:

  • The red colour is most intense at the moment of greatest total eclipse (02:47 UT)
  • Totality during early civil twilight produces the most appealing combination of red moon and deep blue sky i.e. the sky is neither too dark nor too light
  • A totally eclipsed full moon, visible in early civil twilight and low on the horizon, means you can juxtapose a famous landmark or building

Of course, these conditions only exist for a few places on the globe. But if you are not at one of those locations, do not despair:

  • Once the moon moves out of totality, there is still some red colour in the moon, but it will be dominated by a white crescent. This is the sun hitting the moon’s surface as it moves out of the shadow of the earth. The bright white of the partially eclipsed moon has its own shape and is unlike a crescent moon, so still well worth shooting!
  • Getting interest in the sky is important, so use TPE to check when the partially eclipsed moon is visible in late nautical or early civil twilight
  • The silhouette is your friend: get close to objects, either natural or manmade, and use them to frame the moon. This is better during astronomical or nautical twilight rather than in total darkness, so there’s some contrast between the object the sky

If supermoon hits totality overhead in a pitch-black sky, you have a couple of options:

  • The moon moves approximately 1° every 4 minutes and is about 0.5° in apparent diameter (slightly more this time around, as it’s a supermoon).
  • You can plan a time-lapse of the moon moving through the sky, or create a composite from multiple separate exposures
  • The total eclipse lasts a generous 1 hour and 12 minutes and the moon will change its precise shading throughout, giving plenty of variation to capture

We hope you have a successful blood supermoon shoot this weekend! Please share your photos with us via Facebook, Twitter and Google +


Total Lunar Eclipse, April 2014. Photo: Stephen Trainor

The Harvest Moon of September 2015 is remarkable in two respects: it's the largest full moon of 2015, and therefore a ‘supermoon’, and it coincides with a total lunar eclipse, often referred to as a ‘blood’ moon.

The last ‘blood supermoon’ was in 1982 before we even used the term ‘supermoon’. The next one will not occur until 2033, making it a once-in-a-photographer's-career event!

‘Blood supermoon’ will be seen on the evening of Sunday 27 September in the Americas, and during the early hours of Monday 28 September in Europe, Africa and Middle East. Asia and Australasia will miss out this time around.

You can use The Photographer's Ephemeris to check the exact position of the moon during all stages of the eclipse.

Let's take a look at what you will see in five locations around the world:

Blood Supermoon 2015 Infographic

San Francisco

  • Partial eclipse begins 6:07pm, before moonrise
  • Total eclipse begins 7:11pm, with moon rising during civil twilight
  • Greatest eclipse: 7:47pm, with moon at +9.1° altitude

Like much of the west coast of North America, San Francisco is ideally placed to photograph the rising full moon fully eclipsed during twilight.

The total lunar eclipse will begin just 15 minutes after moonrise, with the moon due east at just 2.4° above the horizon. As seen from Marin Headlands, the moon will be hanging in the sky near the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge at around 7:11pm, and tracking southward and upward from there.

A fully eclipsed moon is very much darker than the normal brightness of the moon, so you may need to wait for the sky to darken a little for the moon to become clearly visible (particularly if there is any haze to the east).

Devil's Tower, Wyoming

  • Partial eclipse begins 7:07pm, with the moon low in the eastern sky
  • Total eclipse begins 8:11pm, with the moon at +14.6° during astronomical twilight

Farther east in North America, the eclipse doesn't get started until after moonrise. However, this will provide the opportunity to shoot the partially eclipsed moon low in the sky to the east.

At the famous Devil's Tower in Wyoming (which Richard Dreyfuss attempted to build in his lounge in Close Encounters of the Third Kind), by around 7:30pm, the moon will be well into the partial eclipse.

You can juxtapose the partially eclipsed moon against any prominent tall landmark or building, silhouetted against the deep blues of nautical twilight. For example, here, the moon is positioned to the right of the Devil's Tower (be sure to scout out a safe shooting location in situ in advance if you feel like attempting this shot):

Screenshot of Moon by Devil's Tower, WY

The Photographer's Ephemeris for iOS: Devil's Tower, WY

The partially eclipsed moon remains a very bright object in the night sky, and so it will be almost impossible to expose for both the moon and foreground object: hence a silhouette is the best bet, and will also capture the twilight character of the scene.


If you're not at the ‘margins’ of the visibility zone for the eclipse, then you'll probably find yourself needing to stay up late, or get up very early to see it. At the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, the eclipse will be visible through the middle hours of the night, ending before dawn.

The one advantage of this timing, is that the moon is relatively high in the sky, and so usually easily visible and clear of any haze or pollution in the atmosphere. Try shooting a composite sequence or timelapse of the eclipse from beginning to end (see the image at the start of this article).

Blood Moon Setting

Blood moon setting over the Flatirons, Boulder, Colorado, April 2015. Photo: Stephen Trainor


  • Total eclipse ends at 5:23am on Monday Sep 28 during astronomical twilight
  • Partial eclipse ends at 6:27am at dawn, with the moon low in the western sky

Berliners, and others in Central Europe will be able to see the whole eclipse if they get up early enough. The partially eclipsed moon will be visible low in the sky to the west before dawn, when the sky will be a deep twilight blue (similar to circumstances in Wyoming described above).


  • Total eclipse ends at 6:23am, 2 minutes before sunrise, and only 6 minutes before moonset

Parts of Russia, the Middle East and East Africa will see the totally eclipsed moon disappear into the morning twilight sky as it sets in the west. The moment of greatest eclipse will occur just at the start of civil twilight, which should provide an ideal balance of light for some spectacular photographs.

Don't wait too long after this though, as the moon will fade as the sky brightens.

Here's wishing you clear skies and functioning alarm clocks!

· |

The September full moon – traditionally known as the Harvest Moon – has long been one of the more popular full moons of the year, it seems.

This year’s promises to be a spectacular one: not only is it the largest full moon of 2015 (i.e. a “supermoon” in modern media/astrological parlance), but it is accompanied by a total lunar eclipse (or a “blood” moon, according to the more excitable elements of the press).

We’ll be publishing more over the coming days on how and where to shoot this event, but to get the ball rolling, we’ve just added new events to TPE for iOS detailing the key timings and phases of the event.

Just tap the date at the top of the screen in TPE for iOS to see the newly added events for partial eclipse start and end, totality start and end.

Choose an event to read more details and then tap Select to go the precise date and time. You can then immediately see where the moon will be in your location to help plan your shoot.

"Blood Supermoon" details in TPE for iOS

Note: this event will occur on the evening of Sep 27 for those in the Americas, and in the early hours of Sep 28 for Europe/Africa. TPE will always use the time zone applicable for the location of the red pin, so you don’t need to do the time calculations yourself.

Watch this space for more information on the supermoon in the coming days!

· |

We’re pleased to announce that the Skyfire team rolled out some major updates to the forecasting algorithm this week.

If you don’t know about Skyfire, it’s a sunrise/sunset color prediction service for photographers, currently with coverage of the lower 48 states of the USA. You can read more here and reviews here and here.

Skyfire now includes three distinct weather forecasting models as inputs to its algorithm, with the latest addition being a higher resolution model that has excellent cloud resolution and handles storms and severe weather particularly well.

Skyfire screenshot - landscape

Changes released this week include:

  • An additional forecast run for sunset in the mid-afternoon
  • Haze analysis to allow better analysis of pre-sunset lighting conditions especially along the coast
  • Added an additional NOAA data source to the ensemble forecast which utilizes the newest weather models available
  • Multi-level cloud analysis will provide greater accuracy in some of the more complex weather cases, and take into consideration when multiple cloud levels are visible
  • Better handling of seasonal shifts

Skyfire is offered as an in-app subscription in TPE for iOS. There’s a free 30 day trial available, so give it a go and see if it can help you capture the best possible light!

· |

The 3.3 update for TPE for iOS was released today, with a few changes.

Updated World Magnetic Model

We updated the in-built World Magnetic Model for 2015 – 2020. Every five years, the National Geophysical Data Centre here in Boulder, Colorado and the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, produce an updated model for how local magnetic north varies from true north.

If you enable magnetic north within the app (in Settings), then all azimuths and bearings are relative to local magnetic north. But not only that: magnetic declination varies over time too (which is why new models are required every few years). The model accounts for changes over time during the validity period (now 2015 – 2020), so TPE uses the magnetic declination for both location and date to give the most accurate result.

We’ve open sourced our iOS wrapper for the World Magnetic Model: it’s available here if you need it for your app: https://github.com/stephent/ObjectiveWMM

Visual Search is up to 80% faster

Apple has made great strides in providing improved performance measurement tools for developers. We’ve been using those tools to optimise some of the astronomical calculation code underlying TPE.

Visual Search is calculation intensive: multiple sun and moon position calculations are required, even with interpolation between results. As a result, any improvement in one of the basic calculations reaps big rewards for Visual Search.

In 3.3, Visual Search is up to 80% faster.


TPE + Skyfire running on iPhone 6 Plus

We’re delighted to have partnered with Skyfire to bring their sunrise and sunset color forecasting service exclusively to TPE.

Skyfire covers the lower 48 states of the USA at present, with expanded coverage planned in the future. It’s available as an in-app subscription with a 30-day free trial.

We’ll be adding Skyfire to other versions of TPE over the coming months.

Read more

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