The supermoon rises above the Tidal Basin at 8:57 pm on June 23, 2013.  There was a gap in the cloud cover that allowed for a clear but fleeting view of the moonrise.  (Kevin Ambrose)

As the time for moonrise approached, a long line of photographers at the Tidal Basin watched in worry as a bank of clouds pushed northward across the eastern horizon.  The clouds appeared to arrive just in time to spoil the rise of the much hyped supermoon.

The first photographers who arrived at the Tidal Basin pulled out their smart phones and used LightTrac and Photographer’s Ephemeris to line up the location of moonrise with the Jefferson Memorial. The sky was mostly clear with cirrus clouds to the south.

Within 30 minutes of moonrise, dozens of photographers had arrived at the Tidal Basin and tripods lined the walkway near the Martin Luther King Memorial.  The clouds that were to the south had moved northward and filled the eastern sky.  The eastern horizon looked particularly dark and overcast.  It appeared to me that the moonrise in Washington would be a bust.

At 8:55 pm, the moon became visible over the trees at the Tidal Basin.  There was a gap in the clouds near the horizon which allowed for a clear, but fleeting view of the moonrise.

Within several minutes, the rising moon was obscured by clouds.  The narrow gap in the clouds on the eastern horizon provided for a nice view of the supermoon rise and also salvaged the evening for many Washington-area photographers.  It certainly was much better than last year’s cloudy supermoon rise.

Photographers line the Tidal Basin waiting for moonrise. (Kevin Ambrose)

The supermoon clears the horizon at 8:58 pm. The sky was a nice shade of twilight blue. (Kevin Ambrose)

The rise of the supermoon on Sunday evening in Washington was 8:48 pm, exactly 11 minutes after sunset.  The timing of the moonrise coincided with twilight, also called by some photographers, the “Blue Hour.” It was an optimal time to shoot the moon.

The moon is obscured by clouds at 9:04 pm. (Kevin Ambrose)

The moon shines brightly through the clouds at 9:08 pm. (Kevin Ambrose)