Among so many beautiful moon pictures, it does not happen very often that one of them forces you to stop scrolling through the list and look in your eyes. That 's what happened when I saw this beautiful picture of Andrew McCarthy' s moon. Then I read that it was a photo of 81 megapixels, stacked from nearly 50,000 views. I contacted Andrew, curious to learn more, and he kindly shared the details of his process with DIYP.
Andrew photographed the night sky on Tuesday, February 12th. Andrew explains that the moon appeared at 44% of illumination and he wanted to create this big detailed picture. Interestingly, he does not need to look for a special place to shoot: the picture was taken from his garden in Elk Grove, California. He shared the last picture on Reddit where she quickly reached 161 thousand "I like" (and it continues). But how did he do it?
This image was acquired by taking 50,000 images of the illuminated surface (25 tiles at 2,000 images each) and stacking the optimal 50% of images. The acquisition was carried out with a ZWO ASI224MC. The terrestrial part of the Moon was captured with a Sony a7II and consisted of a mosaic of 13 tiles with the best of about 20 images per stacked tile. The stars were taken with a stack of 50 images with the Sony. The telescope that I used was an Orion XT10, mounted on a Skywatcher EQ6-R Pro.
As for stacking, Andrew stacked the images with Autostakkert, fine-tuned them with Registax and assembled them with Photoshop. After stacking, it was time to make the final adjustments: cloning of missing / obscured areas, masking and curve adjustment, also done in Photoshop.
Hearing how many photos that took and the size of the final image, I was curious to know how long it took to create an image like this. Andrew told me that the acquisition had taken him about an hour, processing / stacking software about two hours and manual processing between three and four o'clock. This seems like a tedious process, but I would say it was worth it!
Below you can see the final image, but be sure to see it in all its splendor via this link. Also discover Andrew's Solar System Composite, another of his remarkable works that we have presented here. Finally, do not forget to follow Andrew on Instagram and you can also order prints of his fantastic images via his online store.