As the moon rose in the evening sky, a crowd gathered at Glacier Point to relive an iconic scene captured by photographer Ansel Adams more than 50 years ago.
About 300 amateur photographers, astronomers and other spectators came Thursday to watch conditions align to repeat the scene in the famous Adams image “Autumn Moon.”
Astronomers nailed down the exact time and date that Adams snapped the photograph in Yosemite National Park in 1948 — and determined that the sun and moon would return to the same positions Thursday.
"Autumn Moon: the High Sierra From Glacier Point" depicts a gauzy moon hanging in the darkening sky above the jagged peaks of the Clark Range. Adams, considered one of the 20th century's greatest photographers, died in 1984.
The view on Thursday came close, many agreed, although it was missing the clouds in the sky, snow on the peaks and the same shadows cast by the moon.
"We're missing the clouds, and we're missing the snow, but otherwise I think I can approximate the image," said Lane Wilson, an amateur photographer from San Francisco who tried to capture the scene using an old-fashioned 5x7 view camera, similar to the model used by Adams.
The Texas State University astronomers concluded that Adams shot the photograph at 7:03 p.m. on Sept. 15, 1948 — not in 1944 as was long believed — and that the scene repeats itself every 19 years.
The researchers, known for their ability to pinpoint historical dates and events, reached their conclusions after poring through celestial history, plotting lunar phases, building a special computer program and calculating shadow angles.