An astrophotographer in the US has created a stunning mosaic of the Moon using 50,000 individual photographs he took to commemorate the day humans first landed on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969.
Andrew McCarthy, an accomplished astrophotographer who lives in Sacramento, California, said he spent a year bringing the masterpiece – his most ambitious project yet – to life.
Measuring more than a gigapixel, the final image is so detailed that it shows the many craters on the lunar surface. He used special software to line up and adjust the images to create the final product.
“The image is a mosaic made from around 50,000 individual images, with many layers composited to create the scene and make the details as clear as possible,” Mr McCarthy told The National.
“The full-sized image is over a gigapixel and shows the craters of the moon in crisp detail. It was captured using an eight-inch [20-centimetre] telescope with a special astrophotography camera and processing the images took me nearly a year working on it intermittently to get it just right.”
Mr McCarthy, who has been photographing the wonders of space for four years, said it was timely to release the image on the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.
Before a full-time career in astrophotography, he said he was working in software.
“My career is now cosmic photography, supported by my patrons," he said. "My passion for this began as a child, as I remember looking through my father’s telescope and seeing the wonders of the universe. That led to a love of space throughout my life.
“Creating these images is a lesson in patience. I use a special camera on a telescope with a long focal length and capture thousands of pictures of small sections of the moon, which are stacked to defeat the distortion caused by our atmosphere and to increase the dynamic range of the scene.
“Since it was my largest and most ambitious image to date, I felt it was timed nicely with the anniversary of the event that inspired so many to look to the skies.”
Mr McCarthy has built up a following of 500,000 people on Instagram thanks to the images he has taken.
Some of the others he took are of the International Space Station crossing the Sun, a composite photo of the total lunar eclipse in 2019 that was created using thousands of individual photos and the North America nebula.