Hunter’s Moon 2011

October’s full moon this year, the Hunter’s moon, occurred at 10:06 p.m. EDT, about 9 hours before it reached apogee (Oct 12 7:44 a.m. EDT, distance 406 434 km). Local conditions here in south Florida were a bit of a challenge; I had to set up under clouds and hope for a break in the clouds near the time of full moon, which is when I wanted to take the picture. After all, it isn’t often that the moon is exactly full at a convenient time for picture-taking.

Some things fell in my favor: I had completed my field battery over the weekend, so my scope had its larger, more stable and, most importantly, tracking, mount from which to operate. Here’s a picture of the battery setup:

As you can see, it’s on a wheeled cart; those deep-cycle marine batteries are heavy! Some people recommended that I use a LiPo (lithium polymer) battery designed for golf carts and wheelchairs, but I went with the cheaply available Wal-Mart option instead. Having field-tested the weight, I’m thinking those LiPo people weren’t wrong…

This is one heavy battery:

But it does the job, with power to spare (literally—there are two extra cigarette lighter sockets; one for the dew heater and one for a future, as yet unplanned, accessory). The socket strip even has a power switch to prevent accidental draining of the battery:

Even with the best setup, though, you can’t control the weather. There was enough moisture in the air that I never did get a very good shot of the full moon; at “exact” full (10:06), I couldn’t even see the moon from my backyard. This picture is from 9:53 p.m., and is the closest I could come this time around:

If you look at the southern and eastern limbs of the moon, you can see a faint haze; that’s not evidence of an atmosphere on the moon! It’s just photographic evidence of the atmosphere here on Earth!

The moon’s angular size at this point was just under 30 minutes of arc, about as small as it gets, since it was close to apogee, and the second-farthest apogee of the calendar year at that (only March 6, at 406 582 km, was farther).

Like the Harvest Moon last month, the time of the Hunter’s Moon rise over the three nights around full is closer together than at other times of the year: 6:01, 6:33, and 7:08 for my location in Boca Raton; compare that to the situation for March’s full moon, which rose successively at 5:37, 6:44, and 7:52, more than an hour later each night.