Skip to main content

Blue 'Lunar Corona' Frames the Full Moon in Eerie Night-Sky Photo

A lunar corona frames the Full Cold Moon in this photo taken from Portugal's Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve on Dec. 21, 2018. (Image credit: Miguel Claro)

Miguel Claro is a professional photographer, author and science communicator based in Lisbon, Portugal, who creates spectacular images of the night sky. As a European Southern Observatory Photo Ambassador, a member of The World At Night and the official astrophotographer of the Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve, he specializes in astronomical "skyscapes" that connect Earth and the night sky. Join him here as he takes us through his photograph "Winter Corona Surrounding a Full Cold Moon."

This abstract night-sky photo shows the full moon peeking through wispy clouds and barren tree branches while surrounded by brilliant, blue lunar corona. A relatively rare sight, this optical phenomenon occurs when bright moonlight is diffracted by water droplets in thin clouds that drift in front of the lunar disk. 

The image was captured in the historic center of Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Portugal's Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve. According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, the December full moon is also called the Full Cold Moon. In 2018, it arrived on the day of the winter solstice. The last time a full moon of any type coincided with the solstice was in 2010, and the next time will be in 2094.

To create this image, I captured multiple exposures with different points of focus, a technique known as focus stacking. Using a Nikon D810a DSLR camera set and a Sigma 150-600-millimeter lens (set to 400 mm with a focal ratio of f/6), I captured 1/30-second exposures with an ISO setting of 1,600.

Related: Color Mosaic of the Full Moon Reveals Blue 'Seas' of Titanium (Photo)

Editor's note: If you have an amazing night-sky photo you'd like to share with us and our news partners for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at

To see more of Claro's amazing astrophotography, visit his website: Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: