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Photographer releases stunning supercut of the moon’s orbit

Emerald Pellot
·2-min read

Lunar photographer Andrew McCarthy spent hundreds of hours snapping photos of the moon over 22 nights.

He took thousands of photos to show, up close, just how much Earth’s satellite moves around. The California-based astrophotographer used an 85-megapixel camera to capture all of the nooks, crannies and craters in the moon’s surface from his backyard.

“Over the last month, I worked on my largest project so far. An attempt to really show off the unmistakable spherical nature of the moon,” McCarthy said on Instagram.

McCarthy captured the moon as it waxed and waned over the 22-day period to create almost a complete orbit (27 days). He then pieced together a supercut of the images that showed the moon’s cratered gray surface “wobble” as it changed positions in the sky.

“By capturing a high-resolution image of the moon every night for 22 days, I captured the ‘libration,’ which is the apparent wobble of our moon,” McCarthy said on Instagram. “Locked in an eternal cosmic dance, this little wiggle is caused by the angle of the moon’s elliptical orbit and the position of the observer.”

McCarthy’s process to achieve such high-quality photos is quite technical.

“I use a special camera designed for very high frame rates, so I can take hundreds of thousands of shots in minutes,” McCarthy told My Modern Met. “Processing is a bit longer, just because it’s so much data. I use software that I upload the RAW frames into that aligns and stacks it, spitting out stacked files that I stitch together in Photoshop. I also run various sharpening programs on the data.”

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If you enjoyed this story, check out NASA’s hi-res footage of a ‘moon buggy’ shows space exploration in stunning color.

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