Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Moonrise to Lunar Eclipse Moonset, Colorado San Juans

Moonrise over the San Juan Mountains, Trout Lake, Colorado.
The end of January 2018 was supposed to be not just a Full Moon, but a "blue moon", meaning the second one in the same month. But that's merely the calendar. The Blue Moon occurred on January 31, just one day before February started. Thus robbing February of a Full Moon at all! What should that be called -- the Non Moon?

Whatever. The important thing is that the weather was forecast to be clear, and I live in southwest Colorado. As in: awesome landscapes abound in which to photograph a rising moon above one of them.

So I drove up to Lizard Head Pass (elevation 10, 222 feet or 3,116 meters) the day before the Full Moon as indicated by the calendar. Why? Because depending on when the moon actually reaches "full illumination", you have to be out there the evening before if you want to make landscape photography shots with both the moon rising and the landscape not in darkness.

Trout Lake, just north of Lizard Head Pass. Sun almost down, moon not up yet.
I got to the Pass while the setting sun was still glowing enticingly on the high peaks. I did not stop at the pass but chose to drive down the other side a few miles, to an overlook above Trout Lake. There the warm sunlit peaks, though they were slipping into shadow fast, made for a fantastic accent to the snowy lake in twilight shadow below.

But! Having those peaks so close to me meant that the rising moon would not clear them for quite a while. After dark. Not good.

So I did a U-turn on the highway and headed back up to Lizard Head Pass. The additional 500 feet in elevation would make a critical difference.

And it did. It was a gorgeous January evening. Unseasonably mild, and there was not even a breeze. Still enough to hear a coin drop on the pavement.

The moon was already up over the peaks, of course, and the sun had gone down, too. No time to lose. Shoot the moonrise in the early twilight, before the moon would become a white round disk in a black sky.

So back to work, camera on tripod of course.

Moonrise panorama. Click on image for larger view.
As I was about to finish up a lone cross country skier appeared back up over the opposite road bank, to his car. Taking his skis off, he saw me photographing and said "What a great view to photograph!". Something like that. We each savored the scene for a few more minutes, then wished each other to have a good rest of the evening.

So much for that evening. I would get up early the next morning for the second half of the show: a full Lunar Eclipse as the moon was getting ready to set before sunrise.

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