A spectacular sight: Berkeley shoots the supermoon

Basking in the light of the "supermoon" on Indian Rock in north Berkeley. Photo: D.H. Parks

Why are we not surprised that this weekend’s supermoon brought out the photographically talented among our readers? Berkeleyans are blessed with a natural curiosity, be it intellectual or for the environment that surrounds us — and clear skies on the night of May 5th allowed for some spectacular views of the special lunar phenomenon.

According to Wikipedia, a supermoon is “the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, or perigee, leading to the technical name for a supermoon of the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system.”

Supermoon rising over UC Berkeley Sather Tower and International House, May 5. Photo: Ira Serkes

Supermoon sunset with birds over Mount Tamalpais, May 5. Photo: Beck Cowles

Full moon over San Francisco taken on May 6. Photo: Ira Serkes

Supermoon morning with Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, taken on May 6 from the Berkeley Hills. Photo: Seaangel

The moon up close, taken on May 6. Photo: Ira Serkes

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  • Alice Kahn

    The moon rising in the hills above the campus is incredible. Thank you.

  • The Sharkey

    Great photos, Ira!

  • Alina

    thanks to the photographers and to BS for posting these wonderful shots!

  • FiatSlug

    I’m wondering where Ira Serkes was when he took the photo of the Supermoon rising in back of the Campanile and I-House. I’d guess within a block or two of Shattuck Ave, but I’d be interested to know more.

  • deirdre

    I saw the title of the post and thought: “Oh, I wonder if D.H. Parks will show up in this post??” Of course I was delighted to see the result.

  • deirdre

    And Ira your shots are fantastic.

  • We met up for a twilight photo shoot up on Albany hill. So that photo was from a very far distance with a very long lens, which is why the moon appears so large (or, to be accurate, why the campanile appears so small, as the angle subtended by the moon is basically constant).

  • FiatSlug

    Wow. I would never have guessed it was that far off. Your answer is illuminating (pun intended).

  • serkes

    Daniel described it perfectly. I used the equivalent of 1280 mm lens from about 4 miles away. I wanted to moon to look much larger than Sather Tower.

    Last month I wanted the Campanile to loom large in front of the moon – a very different mood.


    I used the amazing iPad/iPhone LightTrac App to figure out where to be and when to be there. Catherine’s Walk on Albany Hill was where I took the photo from.


    I love to shoot Art Deco architecture during the day, using a polarizing filter to darken the sky. This app let me know when the sun was in the best position to take the photos I want.

    Light Trac works just as well for sun/moon rise and set. I just figure out what I want to be in front of the moon or sun, then adjust the map to figure out where I have to be to take the photo.

    Here’s the screen shot I used to figure out the where and when.


    I just realized that it’s best to configure the moon-set so that the landmark is in front when the moon is about 5-15º above the horizon … any later than that and the sky’s too light and the moon too dim.

    I’ve greatly admired Frederic Larson’s photography in the San Francisco Chronicle showing the moon or sun behind the Golden Gate or Coit Tower, and always wondered “how did he know where to be to take that photo”

    The LIghtTrac app gives me that answer.

    I just learned s that Mr. Larson gives photo classes … I just signed up for his next Full Moon workshop.


    Come join me.


    I’ll want San Francisco & the Golden Gate Bridge/Alcatraz to look huge relative to the moon, so Treasure Island can be a great place to take moon-sets

  • Ilana D.

    Great photos! I love how the one with the moon over the campanile looks like…. Cal colors!

  • LOVE DH Parks’ work!

  • Heather_W_62

    Beautiful! Thanks Ira!

  • serkes

    Thanks for all the wonderful comments!

    Cal Bears put it on their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CalAthletics last night …. there’s a lot of Blue & Gold love out there for the photo – 171 comments – 1,264 shares, and 4,088 likes!

    Go Bears!

    Boy, do I love living in Berkeley.


  • concerned citizen

    Wow. The responses at https://www.facebook.com/CalAthletics are amazing. Ira, if you decide to offer prints, please let us know, here on Berkeleyside. Large prints would be ideal.

  • serkes

    I’m figuring out how people can order prints directly and will send part of the proceeds to Cal Bears!

    Go Bears!