After a suggestion from Rob Montgomery on Facebook Monday evening, I took a photo of the Purdue Bell Tower pointing toward Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 landing site. Here’s the story behind it.

On Sunday evening after finishing homework, I went out on campus to try and take a photo or two of the Bell Tower with the Moon behind it in some form or another.

The Moon was fairly high in the sky (about 20°) and I wasn’t able to be very far away from the Bell Tower to play with the perspective.

This was taken sitting next to Elliott Hall of Music on the ground Sunday night at 130mm.

To play with the perspective you have to increase the distance from your subject. By doing so, you’re able to zoom in to a larger focal length and make the Moon look larger behind your subject. (in my case – the Bell Tower)

Here is an example by Jennifer Khordi, nearly 10 miles away from One World Trade Center.

No trickery there, it is just playing with perspective.

The 3rd Street Garage is usually the best location for photos like this of the Moon and the Bell Tower together because of its elevated surface off the ground and its distance from the Bell Tower. You kind of get a 2-for-1 by going up there versus standing at ground level.

After posting the above photo on Facebook, Rob Montgomery gave me a wonderful suggestion:

Rob Montgomery: What would have been cool is if the spire pointed to the location of either Armstrong’s or Cernon’s moonwalks! Awesome pic!”

I decided to try it out as soon as the clouds cleared out, Monday didn’t end up working due to thick clouds…


but Tuesday night was fairly first chance and the Moon was scheduled to move right behind the Bell Tower.


What was most difficult was getting the spire to point directly in the direction of The Sea of Tranquility, where Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission. (Landing site indicated in red)


I headed up to the top level of the 3rd street garage and figured out a focal length of just shy of 200mm was best.

At 200mm looking for such precision each time I moved the camera to a new location and set it down, allowed it to settle, and snapped a photo, the spire was out of place. So I had to lead it a little bit, placing it slightly off where I wanted it.

Sort of like how a quarterback leads his receiver with a pass to result with what I wanted.

I resulted with this; One that I would say is in the top 10 favorite photos I’ve taken while here at Purdue.

We have bootprints up there from people who once walked this campus. Too cool.

The next Full Moon falls during my Finals Week, but I look forward to trying this again soon.

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