The Moon over Mount Baker

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I could claim to have planned this shot weeks in advance, but that’s not the case! A friend of mine sent me a message on Facebook earlier asking for moonrise times and rough position for her location, a little to the south of Vancouver, and then casually asked if it would line up with Mount Baker.

My first thought was 'yeah, right!' — while it would obviously line up with Mount Baker from somewhere, the chances of it lining up close to home seemed pretty optimistic, but it was but the work of a moment to check, and discover that while it didn’t, it was surprisingly close!

The next few minutes put my trigonometry to the test, as I worked out the distance to Mount Baker from the Vancouver area (about 95km), the height of the mountain (3,286 metres), and from that, how far it would be above the horizon (almost exactly 2 degrees). I knew the diameter of the moon was roughly 0.5 degrees.

I was then able to plug that into The Photographers Ephemeris and figure out the path where the moon would line up with Mount Baker when it was 2.25 degrees above the horizon, and discovered that the Boundary Bay Dyke Trail would provide me access to the exact spot I needed!

As the afternoon drew on, the haze increased more and more. My friend decided the conditions didn’t look promising enough, but I knew that I’d regret more not going and finding out it was good, than I would if I went and got nothing. Plus, how else was I going to validate my calculations?!

Arriving about 15 minutes before the calculated time, and surrounded by a swarm of flying creatures ranging in size from midges to dragonflies, I was pleased that I could at least see Mount Baker, although I could certainly have wished for less haze. Setting up my camera and tripod on some very boggy ground, I wondered if the moon would be visible through the haze, or if it would need to get higher to be seen. You can imagine my delight as, right on time, the moon began to rise behind the mountain! Taken right as the sun set, the last rays were still lighting up the top of the mountain, giving it a pink glow.

This is a single exposure, taken at ISO 100, f/11, for 0.2 seconds, using my 300mm lens and 1.4x teleconverter for a total focal length of 420mm.

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