Last night (March 19) saw the so-called supermoon of 2011, the biggest full moon since 1993. It passed at its closest point to the earth in 18 years (evidently called the perigee of the orbit), at a mere 221,566 miles (or 356,577 kms), and appeared something like 20 percent brighter and 15 percent larger than a regular full moon.
In the Washington DC area the moonrise happened to coincide with dusk with a cloudless sky. Photographers were out in force–a couple of hundred were positioned at the Netherlands Carillon next to the Iwo Jima Memorial to watch it rise over Washington DC across the Potomac.
Not long after the sun set below the western horizon, the full moon rose almost directly to the east. As it first peaked over the horizon, it was a deep orange-red color, gradually lightening as it rose higher in the sky.
It was a good time to break out the long telephoto lenses and sturdy tripods. These were taken with a Nikon 200-400mm f/4 on a Nikon D300. With the D300’s APC sensor, it was the 35mm equivalent of a 600mm lens. It was also a good time to put The Photographer’s Ephemeris through its paces.
It’s also possible to have a supermoon during a new moon. But I haven’t listed those since they’re not great for taking photos.
There are some handy apps for finding out the times and angles of the moon on any given day.
If you're coming in from out of town, here are some of the most popular guidebooks that can help you make the most of your visit.
And here are some interesting options for less traditional guidesbooks if you'd like an emphasis on exploring DC on foot or diving into some of the region's rich history.