Lunar Heiligenschein

September 04, 2023


Photographer: Marco Meniero

Summary Author: Marco Meniero

Shown above is a photo of a lunar heiligenschein I took from the control tower of Viterbo airport in Italy. Seeing the heiligenschein phenomenon with the Sun is one thing but to be able to view it with the Moon as the source of illumination is quite extraordinary. I had the full Moon behind me, and it had just risen. Before me stood Venus near the star Elnath in Taurus. With great surprise, I saw with the naked eye the lunar heiligenschein phenomenon. I know the heiligenschein well because it's easily seen in sunlight from the control tower, but I had never seen it in moonlight. At this point I climbed onto the roof and took the photo.

Heiligenschein (German for "halo") is an optical phenomenon that creates a bright spot around the shadow of the viewer's head. It's typically observed during clear mornings when a surface (generally grassy) is covered in dew and the droplets are arranged so as to focus an enlarged image of the Sun (or Moon) on the blades of grass. This image is then reflected on the figure or object opposite of the grassy surface, creating a luminous "halo" around it. Photo taken on June 7, 2023, at 19.34 local time. 

Photo details: Canon Eos 1DxMK2 camera; with Canon EF 8-15/4 fisheye lens; closed at f/4.5; 200 ISO; 30 seconds exposure.


Viterbo Airport, Italy Coordinates:

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