When a rare blue supermoon appeared in late August, astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy was ready. Known for his highly detailed images of the stars, McCarthy never misses a celestial event. While bad weather nearly foiled his plans, the clouds parted just in time for him to capture a once-in-a-lifetime image from his home in Arizona.
Not only did McCarthy capture the blue supermoon in rich, colorful detail, but he also happened to snap a shot right when a plane passed in front of the moon. The silhouette of the airplane only enhances the image, adding a hint of humanity to the photo and providing scale to show just how large the moon is.
McCarthy, who used three telescopes to capture the scene in full color, took to the internet to see if anyone could identify the plane. Luckily, the team at Flightradar24 was able to track down the information by asking McCarthy his exact location and the time of the photo. They then checked their data and saw two aircrafts in the area at that time.
By zooming into McCarthy's image to see more details of the plane, they concluded that he'd captured a JetBlue flight traveling from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale. In a beautiful case of the internet bringing people together, the First Officer from the flight thanked McCarthy for his unique perspective of the air trip.
“I love the power of the internet,” McCarthy tweeted. “I take a photo of the silhouette of some strangers many miles away and within 24 hours I’m able to show them the photo.”
Thanks to this detective work, McCarthy was able to get in touch with the flight crew and send them a copy of the image. It's also available for sale, in limited quantities, on his website. See more of McCarthy's incredible astrophotography on Instagram and consider supporting his work for some cool perks over on Patreon.
Astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy captured the silhouette of a plane passing in front of August's rare blue supermoon.
He turned to the internet for help in discovering which flight he'd photographed.
Capturing the plane was a complete accident, but worked out nicely in the composition so I left it in. I wonder if I can track down the pilot and let them know I got a photo of them? pic.twitter.com/QwSwUKy6f6
— Andrew McCarthy (@AJamesMcCarthy) August 31, 2023
Thankfully, Flightradar24 was able to step in and help.
Here’s how we used Flightradar24’s playback feature to find out that the aircraft in @AJamesMcCarthy’s stunning photo of last night’s blue moon is a @JetBlue A320. https://t.co/aAff1wXES1 https://t.co/Hexo9NBYB4
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) August 31, 2023
This allowed him to connect with the flight crew.
I just signed up an account here to thank you for the picture. I was the First Officer of this flight, JetBlue 30 SAN-FLL.
— Aroldo Vichiett Netto (@AroldoVichiett) August 31, 2023