How and when to photograph Sunday's lunar eclipse in Las Vegas

How and when to photograph Sunday’s lunar eclipse in Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS)  People in the Las Vegas valley will see the full moon turn blood red (or burnt red) Sunday night as the earth transits between the moon and the sun. And if luck is on your side, there will not be any clouds covering this celestial sight.

It’s one thing to see it in person, and it’s another to be able to take a good photo of it happening.


If you are a spectator in Pacific Standard Time, the eclipse will begin at 8:29 p.m. and continue until 9:53. It is recommended you find a place to see the horizon in the eastern sky where the moon will rise.

Event Time in Las Vegas Visible in Las Vegas
Penumbral Eclipse begins May 15 at 6:32:05 pm No, below the horizon
Partial Eclipse begins May 15 at 7:27:52 pm No, below the horizon
Full Eclipse begins May 15 at 8:29:03 pm Yes
Maximum Eclipse May 15 at 9:11:28 pm Yes
Full Eclipse ends May 15 at 9:53:55 pm Yes
Partial Eclipse ends May 15 at 10:55:07 pm Yes
Penumbral Eclipse ends May 15 at 11:50:49 pm Yes


To capture an image showing what would appear to be an oversized moon behind an object or building, you need to be far away from the foreground object, sometimes miles away. 

The photographer is about 10 miles from the Las Vegas strip in the images below, but when zoomed in or cropped, the moon appears extra large behind the foreground objects. In this case, the moon seems to hover near the Wynn hotel in the picture below. Being this far away from your foreground object also allows the moon to stay focused. Use the slider to see the wide shot and close-up versions.

Use the slider to see the wide shot and close-up versions of a similar photograph. (Photos by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)


While it is possible to photograph the moon using a cell phone camera, you will unlikely get the results you want. The image sensor is small, and unless you adjust the setting in a ‘pro’ mode, the camera auto setting will not give you the desired outcome.

If all you have is a cell phone, it is worth trying, but you will need to adjust settings manually. Android phones have a camera mode called “PRO,” while in iPhones, you can pull down from the top of the camera screen to see adjustments. The settings you choose will be similar to the suggested settings below, but remember, test out your settings; if one doesn’t work, make a change and try it again. 

Screengrab of “PRO” photo mode on an android camera. (KLAS)


If you have a Digital Single-lens Reflex (DSLR) camera, there’s a good chance you already know about different settings. The bottom line when it comes to shooting the moon is the more control you have over your camera, the better chance you have of taking a fantastic photograph.

The first thing to consider with a DSLR is what type of image you are trying to capture; knowing this will facilitate choosing the correct lens. If you want to capture the moon as your main image, select a lens with a large zoom, like 300mm. If you’re going to include another object to appear in your shot, like a building or trees, a wider lens is better. A person’s field of view is considered to be around 50mm.

Using a tripod or something you can set your camera on the top is another helpful tip as it will help minimize shaking. If your camera or lens has built-in image stabilization, it can help, but if you have your camera on a tripod or something solid, turn the image stabilization off and use a timer for your shutter.

The moon itself will be different colors of red for 84 minutes Sunday night, so don’t rush. Take your time and take as many photographs as possible.


Change your camera and lens focus setting to “manual” to get the best focus of the moon. Then, use the LCD screen on the camera to focus. To do this, zoom in as far as you can on the moon, and if you can, use the digital magnification available on some cameras to see a closer shot and manually focus with this screen.

Below is a collection of blood moon photographs from around the world to give you some ideas when planning your night.


When shooting the blood moon, set almost everything in “manual” mode for the best chance at a crisp picture you’ll want to share.

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