Super-zoom videos of supermoon rising

November 15th, 2016 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

The last couple nights I tried out my new Nikon Coolpix P900 super-zoom camera on the rising moon, at 2000 mm focal length. The two videos that follow are real-time, not time lapse, and are HD so best viewed full-screen.

This is a frame grab from one of the clips I took last night showing a jet passing by, I calculate it was about 100 miles away:


This video of the moonrise last night was the most spectacular here in Huntsville, as our skies have been pretty smokey from the SE U.S. wildfires, and the smoke thinned enough to see the moon as it peeked over the horizon. The tree line is about 2 miles away, and a bat flies by starting at about 1:42:

The next video was taken two nights ago, about 20 minutes after moonrise. The TV tower is almost 2 miles away.

19 Responses to “Super-zoom videos of supermoon rising”

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  1. Steven Fraser says:


  2. Marsh says:

    Thanks you So much!

    Both videos are beautiful.

  3. Rhee says:

    Wow. Just. Wow.
    The bat at 1:42 reminds me of the iconic scene of the boys riding their bicycles from E.T. movie, except this is real-time with no special FX.

  4. jimc says:

    Also sprach Zarathustra (Strauss)

  5. John Hultquist says:

    Thanks. We could not see it because of clouds.

    Tony Heller took such a camera to AU and has posted some of the photos. He started on Nov. 5, saying “showing off what the 320X zoom on my Nikon P900 camera can do.” Since then he has included more photos.
    I am using a D40X from a few years ago. It is in great shape and takes great photos. Maybe I can drop in on a rock while hiking and tell my wife I need a new one.

  6. Fred P Singerless says:

    Dr. S,

    Just wondering what you think of the dramatic record low ice extent and volume being reported from satellites in the last month. At the same time the southern hemisphere sea ice extent is at all time lows. Is this another NOAA/liberal MSM conspiracy?

    It stinks of a too late effort to get Hillary elected. Will the data be adjusted soon?


    • Reptile says:

      Maybe because ice extent is just…low. You know, its not everything about elections. Take off your tin foil hat and start using your brain.

  7. Massimo PORZIO says:

    We also couldn’t see it here because of the cloudy night.

    Many thanks.


  8. Greg says:

    Thanks for these amazing images.

    It may be rather fun to find out what flight that was from the exact time and direction from your point of observation.

    I did not spot that plane in the two posted vids, do you have a precise time for that frame and direction?

    It would also be good to have a still in a non lossy format if that is possible. ( Obviously this needs to be done from source, not just converting the jpeg. )

    I wanted to try to enhance the plane to the point where we could determine the aircraft type but it’s only about 10 pixels high and the jpeg distortion is not helping the deconvolution.

    I suspect it is a 747 but it’s barely discernible.

    • Roy Spencer says:

      The Nikon P900 only takes jpegs, and this is just a frame from a movie clip anyway.

      • Greg says:

        Thanks, the movie will be some other compression ( also lossy ) but when the frame is extracted and saved as jpeg there will be additional degradation.

        If the plane is in the vids you posted could you say which one and at what time? I can’t spot it. ( But I didn’t see the bat until I went back and looked at 1:42min ).

        While I have your ear, could you comment on this interesting photo I took while flying over southern England earlier this month.

        There is a click through sequence of several images and some info and meteo data.

        Judith suggested it could be diamond dust ice cloud and this seems possible from the radiosonde data.

        I thought the nearly specular reflection of the sun was interesting.

        regards, Greg.

        • Greg says:

          Looking at the plane again, I don’t think its a 747. More likely a straight bodied, two engine craft, probably Boeing thought the tail is deformed by the jpeg processing. Seems to have up turned wing tips. I’m thinking 737-800 at a guess.

          Moon rise on 14th was at 17:17 in Huntsville on the 14th, E-NE direction. This may help narrow it down.

          • Greg says:

            There was an AA flight 737-823 in that direction just the other side of Chattenooga which is about the right distance but maybe a couple of minutes too early.

            Then another 737 of Southwest over Cleveland at 17:30

            Not sure how high the moon was and hence the timing for that still image.


            The most likely flight sadly has aircraft ID and type “blocked”. Some super secret govt flight 😉

            Oh well.

  9. AlanF says:

    You must try “lucky imaging” using video and software to stack lucky frames…autostakkert. You want to select a format for the Video that as closely matches the hardware resolution as possible use the full optical zoom plus digital zoom. this avoids downsampling of the full sensor resolution to 1080p or whatever which messes up the image. You should be able to see features on Jupiter,Saturn and Mars this way.

    • Greg says:

      Interesting, I’ll have a look at autostakkert. Shame the two videos which Dr Spencer uploaded do not seem to be the one with the airliner cameo.

  10. AlanF says:

    Some cameras (don’t know about p900) have a special video mode like 640×480 where they record only those pixels from the centre of the sensor so you get extremely clear images at max optical zoom.
    I believe Jupiter and Saturn are on the order of 200 to 300 pixels in diameter at 85x? Would have to look up apparent angular size depending on time of year.

  11. Nabil Swedan says:

    Thank you for these beautiful pictures.

  12. Fred Stoller says:

    Dear Mr. Spencer, very cool pics, I wish I would be able to do some, because the moon in the Swiss Mountains where I live looked spectacular. Best regards and thanks for all the postings, Freddie

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