On Friday night and Saturday morning, people across the world will be able to see a ‘Blood Moon’ – a rare occurrence that sees the Earth’s satellite turn a striking shade of red.
The blood moon phenomenon occurs as a result of a lunar eclipse, when the Earth passes directly between the sun and the moon and casts the moon into shadow.
This particular lunar eclipse will be the longest-lasting of the century so far, with the moon eclipsed for a total of one hour and 43 minutes – meaning there’s plenty of opportunity to take some incredible astrophotography with your XperiaTM device.
But just to make sure you capture some awe-inspiring imagery, we spoke to astronomy photographer Andrew Whyte for his top tips on shooting the blood moon with a smartphone.
Is it possible to get a good shot of the blood moon with a smartphone?
Absolutely. There are very few scenarios that can be seen but not photographed. The best camera is the one you have with you – and for most people that’s their smartphone.
Which smartphone specs make it easier to take good pictures of the blood moon?
You’ll be shooting in low light, which means a wide aperture is helpful. The XZ2 Premium has a wide aperture of F1.8, meaning it lets in lots of light. Its low-light ISO of 51,200 makes it more sensitive when taking imagery in darker surroundings – in fact, the XZ2 Premium’s specs are about the most impressive I’ve seen for low-light photography in a smartphone. The combination of these two variables mean users have the optimum chance to get a great shot in low-light conditions.
Should I zoom in?
No. It’s much better to crop afterwards. The XZ2 and XZ2 Premium both have a 19mp main camera, giving you the opportunity to straighten wonky horizons and crop the final photo without losing too much image size.
Where should I go to get a good picture?
Head away from city lights that will overpower the moon – the less ambient light the better. To get a standout photo, do some research into local landmarks and interesting features of the landscape (see image below). Objects with recognisable silhouettes such as a gnarly old tree or a castle could make for a brilliant shot with the blood moon in the background. If you’re not near anything photogenic, get a friend to stand in the shot as a silhouette to give your picture some context.
Should I use flash?
It’s best avoided in this situation. If you want to add light into the scene, do so with a dim torch, a keyring light or a friend’s phone. If the light is too bright it will overpower the scene – the glow of a friend’s phone screen should be enough.
What other preparations should I make?
Hold the phone very still, or rest it on something firm and safe, such as a fence post, bench or friend’s shoulder. The XZ2 Premium has 5-axis image stabilisation which reduces the vibrations from trying to hand-hold the device at the required low shutter speed – which is very helpful in this situation.
Anything I might have forgotten?
Clean the lens to extract every last element of light-gathering power. A greasy thumbprint that you might not even be able to see could filter the light coming through.
Will the weather affect my shots?
As an astrophotographer I hope for clear skies but I’ll be ok if there’s a scattering of clouds to break up the vast expanse of dark sky – just as long as they don’t obscure the moon. Another advantage of the XZ2 Premium camera is its hi-res sensor which means you can trim expanse of dark sky from your shot.