A California-based astrophotographer has taken what is being called the world’s clearest picture of the moon. The process involved patiently placing together thousands of images of different lunar phases in order to showcase the entirety of the moon’s surface.
Andrew McCarthy shot the pictures over a two week period, during the waxing moon, which is when the surface can be seen from Earth more illuminated than usual. Craters on the moon appear elongated due to the line between the light and dark sides of the moon, known as the "lunar terminator."
The completed composite shows in great clarity the current state of our 4.5 billion-year old moon.
Writing about the result, McCarthy revealed more of the painstaking effort required:
This moon might look a little funny to you, and that's because it is an impossible scene. From two weeks of images of the waxing moon, I took the section of the picture that has the most contrast (right before the lunar terminator where shadows are the longest), aligned and blended them to show the rich texture across the entire surface. This was exhausting to say the least, namely because the moon doesn't line up day over day, so each image had to be mapped to a 3D sphere and adjusted to make sure each image aligned.
McCarthy used an ASI1600MM and the Celestron edgeHD 800 to take the shots.
Images courtesy, and used with permission of, Andrew McCarthy.