Astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy is always looking to further his craft and wow us with his capabilities. Known for creating highly detailed images of the cosmos, his newest photograph is a masterful look at the Moon. Made from 280,000 photos, the 1.3 gigapixel image is aptly titled GigaMoon.
It's a photograph that McCarthy has been chasing for quite some time. Previous attempts had gone awry due to the weather conditions and McCarthy says that his hard drive is filled with images taken during failed attempts. Luckily, on April 29, everything aligned, and he was able to complete his vision.
Photographing the Moon in this much detail is arduous because of the atmospheric conditions. Changes in temperates in the different layers of the atmosphere can cause warping and make the Moon appear blurry. Even in the best conditions, McCarthy likens it to “capturing through water with how much the atmosphere distorts each image.”
To cut down on that distortion, he takes 2,000 photographs at a time and slowly makes his way across the entire Moon until he's imaged the entire thing. In the case of GigaMoon, he actually photographed the Moon twice in order to ensure that every part of the celestial body was captured perfectly.
Since his initial images were taken in black and white, McCarthy then went back to capture all the color data he'd need to add to the finished product. He did this using a Newtonian telescope equipped with a full-frame CMOS camera. After all was said and done, it was then time for post-production.
This entails stacking the images and then stitching them together by hand in Photoshop. After several days of tweaking the alignment and coloration, GigaMoon was ready to be revealed. To really get into the rich detail, McCarthy has a landing page where anyone can zoom in and explore. He's also selling fine art prints of GigaMoon on his website, and has the full-image download available for his Patreon supporters.