Hadley Rille with iPhone

31 Jul

For *years* I’ve been trying to photograph Hadley Rille — a long, meandering channel on the moon visited by the Apollo 15 astronauts in 1971.


Apollo 15 astronaut Dave Scott attends to the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) at the edge of Hadley Rille, August 2, 1971.

It turns out I’d captured it in 2012 with my iPhone 4S…and not even known it!


Hadley Rille, stack of 30 frames from iPhone 4S video attached to an 8″ telescope. October 23, 2012.

Above is a zoomed-in GIF that shows what I’ve long sought to photograph! The highlighted area is the winding channel known as Hadley Rille or Rima Hadley. In October, 2012, I was able to spot the rille with my eye at the telescope, so I took a 30-second video of the region with my iPhone 4S to see if I could record it. At the time, I couldn’t see any hints of it in the video or its individual frames, so I assumed it was too small to be picked up by the smartphone camera.

Three years later, armed with much more experience stacking and sharpening video frames, I returned to the video and was amazed to discover that the smartphone camera definitely picked up the rille! While the chasm is long, it only measures 1km across and 300m deep, on average, so it’s amazing to think that a smartphone camera attached to a modest telescope can capture something that small from 380,000 kilometres away.

My photo doesn’t appear to have captured *all* of the rille, however. Hadley rille continues further North than my photo shows. In fact, I was disappointed when I saw that the specific section of the rille visited by the Apollo astronauts isn’t visible in this photo — possibly due to the way it was lit at the time of the photo. It *should* be possible for me to capture the entire channel under the right conditions, however, so it looks like I have something else to try for on an upcoming moon shoot.

Below is my full-size image of the region. It’s a composite of 30 iPhone video frames which have been “stacked” together and sharpened using various software tools that include Registax and GIMP.


Imbrium basin & site of Apollo 15 landing. Stack of 30 frames from iPhone 4S video attached to an 8″ telescope. October 23, 2012.

To see more of my smartphone astrophotography, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or Flickr!

2 Responses to “Hadley Rille with iPhone”

  1. Jim in IA July 31, 2015 at 10:40 pm #

    That was very cool to be able to return to your video and extract the details. Nice job.

  2. suzzeq August 1, 2015 at 10:41 am #

    Reblogged this on suzzeq's Blog.

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