Camera Exposure Settings to Capture the Moon and Stars

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The sunlit part of the moon is far brighter than the stars in the background. But cameras have dynamic range limitations. They cannot capture extremely bright and extremely dim objects at the same time. We can increase the exposure to reveal the stars, but then the moon will appear washed out, with no visible details.

Flat-Earthers use the lack of stars in photos taken from space to dismiss them as fake. In reality, the reason for the lack of stars is the same reason stars are also missing in photos of the Moon taken with the correct exposure.

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Visual Albedo of the Moon and the Earth

Visual albedo is the measure of the reflection of sunlight out of the total solar radiation received by an astronomical body, taking into account only the visible light. The visual albedo of the Earth is 0.37, and the Moon’s is 0.12.

The Moon appears dark if the Earth also appears in the same photograph. Flat Earthers use the fact to dismiss such photos as fake. In reality, the Moon’s brightness in a photo is just a matter of choosing the correct camera exposure. But if Earth is also present, increasing the exposure will make the Earth appear too bright.

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Glare

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Glare can appear around light sources, causing them to appear larger in a photo. The higher the exposure value of the camera, the larger the glare will appear on the resulting photo.

Much flat-Earth misinformation arises from misunderstandings about photography, such as about glare and how to eliminate glare by changing the exposure or by using a solar filter. Using the exposure setting for everyday scenes to capture a photograph of the sun will give us a glare around the Sun. To take a photo of the actual size of the Sun, we need to reduce the exposure, either by changing the in-camera exposure settings or by using a solar filter.

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Constant Image Brightness in Images of a Total Lunar Eclipse

The images showing the progress of a lunar eclipse were taken in increasing exposures to compensate for the decrease in brightness. The exposure increase from full moon to totality can reach 12EV or 4000× increase in light-gathering power.

Images showing the progress of a lunar eclipse appear in a constant brightness, and flat-Earthers —presumably never seen it in person— use it to “prove” a lunar eclipse is not caused by Earth’s shadow. In reality, the images were kept in a constant brightness by increasing the exposure of the camera.

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Earthshine and Moon Phase

Earthshine is a glow in the dark areas of the Moon because sunlight reflects off Earth’s surface to the Moon’s night side. Earthshine can be easily observed with long-exposure photography.

Some flat-Earthers claim that the Moon is transparent or that it is not a sphere. By observing the earthshine using a camera with the correct exposure, we can easily disprove such claims.

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Sun Glare

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Sunlight is very intense. It can cause glare to appear around the sun, and as a result, the sun can appear larger than its actual size. To observe the sun’s actual size, we need to eliminate the glare by reducing the camera’s exposure or using a solar filter.

During sunset, sunlight gradually becomes less intense, and sun glare gradually becomes smaller. If the glare is not eliminated, the sun can appear as if it is shrinking, and flat-Earthers incorrectly use it as “evidence” that the sun is moving away from us.

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Nikon P900 & P1000: Correctly Focus & Expose Stars & Planets

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The Nikon P900 and Nikon P1000 are cameras with a very high zoom factor. However, like most other cameras, they have difficulties focusing and exposing bright & small objects against dark backgrounds. They will require special tricks to get proper images of stars and planets.

Some flat-Earthers pointed their Nikon P900 or P1000 to stars and planets, took out of focus images of them and believed the photos are the “real images of stars and planets.” In reality, the photos are simply the results of their failures to operate their cameras.

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Sunset with a Solar Filter

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The apparent size of the Sun is constant throughout the day, from sunrise to sunset, seen from anywhere on Earth. This fact disproves the flat Earth model and is only consistent with the spherical Earth model.

Flat-Earthers like to show us videos of the Sun that appears shrinking during a sunset. They merely failed to control the exposure. Using a solar filter or the in-camera exposure settings, the size of the Sun will appear constant during a sunset.

The apparent size of the Sun is constant throughout the day, seen from anywhere on Earth, from sunrise to sunset. This fact is only possible if the Sun is very far compared to the distance between any two observers on Earth.

The Moon and Stars in a Single Picture

Stars are not visible in photos of the Moon –including those taken from the lunar surface— because the Moon is sunlit. The exposure needed to take a photograph of the Moon is not that much different from that used to take a photo in daylight on Earth’s surface.

To demonstrate this, we can try taking a picture of the Moon with stars visible, on the conditions: 1. The lunar features, like the craters, are correctly exposed, not overexposed. 2. Taken in a single exposure, not HDR, and not the result of editing. Even if we are using the best camera available today, the stars can’t show up in large enough quantity.

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Zooming-In on the Setting Sun

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Camera zoom works by enlarging the center portion of the image, or in other words, by making its field-of-view narrower. Zooming in on the setting sun will not reveal more of the sun, and will only enlarge the size of the sun in the resulting image.

Flat-Earthers are claiming that zooming in on a setting sun will reveal the entire sun, and somehow lift it out of the water. They are wrong. They simply used the incorrect exposure settings. In reality, zooming on the setting sun will never reveal the sun that is already obstructed by Earth’s curvature.

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Photographic Exposure

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In photography, exposure is the amount of light reaching the camera film or sensor, as determined by shutter speed, lens aperture, and scene luminance. By adjusting the exposure and sensor/film sensitivity (ISO), it is possible to get a bright or dark result.

It is quite apparent that photography has never been any flat-Earthers’ strongest point. There are many misconceptions in flat-Earth circles that arise from their ignorance about photography. One of such misconceptions is exposure.

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The Lack of Motion Blur in Earth Photos

The surface of the Earth close to the equator is moving at the speed of about 1670 km/h due to Earth’s rotation. To take a sharp picture of the Earth with the resolution of 10000×10000 from a stationary position in space, it would require the shutter speed faster than 2.7 seconds. It is not difficult at all to take a sharp picture of the entire Earth without perceivable motion blur.

Flat-Earthers claim that it should be impossible to take a sharp picture of the Earth from space due to the speed of Earth’s rotation. To them, the fact that a photographer cannot take a sharp photo of a speeding race car from the sidelines (they actually can) tells us it should be impossible to take a sharp picture of the Earth moving at 10× the speed.

They are wrong. Motion blur is caused by the angular speed of the object relative to the camera, not from its absolute speed. The vast distance required to take a photo of the Earth results in a very low angular speed, making it not difficult at all to take sharp images of the Earth.

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Sunset, Camera Zooming, and Autoexposure

There are videos showing the sun to appear to set, but after the camera is zoomed in, the sun is still above the horizon. The reason is that the camera’s autoexposure system is constantly adjusting the exposure, and in such scenes, there’s a difference in overall brightness before and after zooming in.

Flat-Earthers are taking such videos as ‘evidence’ of a receding sun. They are wrong. This is merely a matter of photography. In reality, the sun is not receding, and it has the same angular size throughout the day.

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The Lack of Stars in the Pictures of Space

In many pictures taken from space, stars are not visible, even with a dark sky. The reason is that stars are very dim compared to the primary object in the pictures. If the camera is set to take a correctly exposed image of an object that is much brighter than the stars, then the stars would not be visible in the picture. The same thing would happen everywhere, in space, or on the surface of the Earth.

Flat-Earthers often take the lack of stars as fakery. They are wrong. This is simply a limitation of any camera.

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Earthshine Proves the Moon Obscures the Sun During a Total Solar Eclipse

During a total solar eclipse, the Moon is right between the Earth and the Sun. Thus, the near side of the Moon does not receive any sunlight. But while it is dark, it still gets some light reflected by the surface of the Earth. This phenomenon is called Earthshine.

Some flat-Earthers argue that a solar eclipse is not caused by the blocking of the Sun by the Moon, but by another, mysterious celestial body. The reason is that eclipses are incompatible with their beliefs about the motion of the Sun and the Moon.

Earthshine proves that they are wrong.

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