Sunday, July 13, 2014

Super Moon and Meteor 2014 Over Dallas Texas

Super Moon over the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge July 12, 2014. Shot from the junction of the West Fork and Elm Fork of the Trinity River Dallas Texas
Far beyond the sights and sounds of the city, the unvisited confluence of the Elm and West Forks of the Trinity River join to form the Main Stem of the Trinity River. Far from any road, the 1/3-1/2 mile trip in Far West Dallas over dead headed wildflower fields of a 100 degree July summer evening makes for some tough travel.

Four miles away stands the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge which serves as a fitting backdrop for photographing the moon. Ideally, one wishes to find foreground objects close to the horizon that give the illusion of a giant moon. Hard to pull off in the summer, much easier in the winter months when the atmospheric conditions are often clearer on the horizon.
The orange colored moon as it rises through the humidity and haze shortly after 9pm
The moon rise for Dallas on July 12, 2014 was 8:46 PM local time. During the summer months it can take an extra few minutes for the moon to become visible on the horizon as it must rise past a field of vision often obscured by the haze and thick atmosphere.

Meteor over Dallas July 12, 2014
The unexpected meteor as it broke apart into pieces as it moved from the South-Southeast towards Dallas, July 12, 2014
It was just about the time that the moon became visible to the eye that a bright white light approached rapidly from the southeastern sky. I was shooting with a cable release at the time and could see the approaching light which I thought was an aircraft landing light for an airplane approaching Love Field.

It instantly struck me as odd as aircraft never land with the wind(to the southeast that evening). The lighted object broke into pieces, I swung my camera around and fired off some shots. The only one that came out half way decent was the one above, my camera speed was 1/30 of a second and too slow to catch much with the still wobbling tripod from readjusting the camera.

Meteors like this are fairly common and seen on a regular basis if you spend evenings outdoors. Combined with a full moon rise is pretty special and hopefully was seen by many in the DFW area.

Super Moon July 2014
Super Moon 2014 and the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge as seen from over 4 miles away
Super Moons are a fairly new term to the modern lexicon. It occurs when the moon, in a less than circular orbit approaches closer to Earth than usual.  The scientific term for the phenomenon is "perigee moon." Full Moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon's orbit. The Moon follows an elliptical path around Earth with one side ("perigee") about 30,000 miles closer than the other ("apogee").  Full Moons that occur on the perigee side of the Moon's orbit seem extra big and bright.I have photographed a number of Full Moons on the Trinity River here and Dallas and frankly cannot tell the difference between a Super vs Regular Moon if there is such a thing.

This Super Moon coincidence happens three times in 2014.  On July 12th and Sept 9th the Moon becomes full on the same day as perigee.  On August 10th it becomes full during the same hour as perigee which makes it an extra-super Moon.

Tracking moon rises and other astronomical events is easier than ever to track with with The Photographers Ephemeris a google map based app that gives times and locations of moon/sun events. It takes most of the guess work out of planning moon events to some degree.
BNSF Train moving across the Trinity River July 2014 as seen from the Commerce Street Bridge


  1. Hi, great post, thanks. Let me ask you one thing, on August 10 Full Moon is at 1:09 pm CDT and Perigee Moon is at 12:44pm CDT. Still the moon will not be visible from DFW since it's daytime, right? Then the 10th at moonrise (8:10p) would be the day to take pictures of the "largest" moon of the year, correct? Thanks

    1. The moon will not clear the eastern horizon till 8:10pm on August 10th. You won't be able to see it from Dallas until that time.