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Here Are NASA's Simple Tips for Photographing the 'Showstopper' Supermoon

Published On 11/13/2016 Published On 11/13/2016

On Sunday, November 13th and Monday, November 14th, you'll have a chance to see what's expected to be a spectacular, "showstopper" of a supermoon in the night sky -- the biggest and brightest moon to be seen on earth in nearly 70 years. So, not only should you get off your ass and go see it, you should also try to photograph the once-in-a-lifetime lunar phenomenon. Thankfully, NASA's got you covered with several helpful tips on how to take photos of the supermoon that don't suck.

In a recent blog post on NASA.gov, the space agency's senior photographer, Bill Ingalls, explains everything you need to do to take great photos of the supermoon, whether you're equipped with a professional camera or just your iPhone. Ingalls is the photographer behind some of NASA's most stunning images (including the moon photo pictured above), so you can trust that the guy knows what he's talking about.

Best of all, his No. 1 most important tip has nothing to do with how fancy your camera equipment is, but rather your eye for a great photo. Specifically, you should shoot the moon along with something on the ground for reference. 

"Don’t make the mistake of photographing the moon by itself with no reference to anything,” he said in the NASA post. “I’ve certainly done it myself, but everyone will get that shot. Instead, think of how to make the image creative -- that means tying it into some land-based object. It can be a local landmark or anything to give your photo a sense of place. It means doing a lot of homework. I use Google Maps and other apps -- even a compass -- to plan where to get just the right angle at the right time.”

Here are just a few of his other tips, via the NASA story:

Try including people in your shot

"There are lots of great photos of people appearing to be holding the moon in their hand and that kind of thing," he said. "You can get really creative with it."

Don't worry if all you have is a smartphone camera

"It’s all relative," he said. "For me, it would be maddening and frustrating -- yet it may be a good challenge, actually. You’re not going to get a giant moon in your shot, but you can do something more panoramic, including some foreground that’s interesting. Think about being in an urban area where it’s a little bit brighter."

Additionally, he recommends adjusting for the right light balance with your phone's camera settings, saying. "Tap the screen and hold your finger on the object (in this case, the moon) to lock the focus. Then slide your finger up or down to darken or lighten the exposure."

For DSLR camera users, be careful with white balance and long lenses

Ingalls explained that he uses a daylight white balance setting for photographing the moon due to the sunlight it reflects. If you're using a DSLR camera with a longer lens, here's what he recommends:

"Keep in mind that the moon is a moving object," he said. "It’s a balancing act between trying to get the right exposure and realizing that the shutter speed typically needs to be a lot faster."

Of course, timing is also a key part of getting a killer shot of the supermoon. According to NASA, the moon will be at its closest point to Earth at 6:22am EST on Monday, November 14th, but viewing the supermoon will be excellent after sunset on both Sunday, November 13th and Monday, the 14th, after sunset. There will only be a "subtle difference" in how big and bright the moon appears, the space agency said.

This is all to say you'll be rolling in Instagram likes in no time. As always, folks: don't forget to look up tonight, camera handy or not.

h/t Gizmodo

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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and might actually go out and attempt to get some shots of the super moon tonight. Send news tips to news@thrillist.com and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.

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