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The sky is for all of us to see; anyone could wander outside their houses to look through lenses and venture on an adventure to the cosmos by themselves. Our universe is a wonderful, marvelous, and scary place full of stunning vistas and astounding events; no wonder we love looking through our tiny telescopes to capture the pictures of the giant stars.
Andrew McCarthy is an amateur space photographer – or a “space nerd” as he calls himself who takes such photographs. His fascination and curiosity for space were piqued as a little child when his father introduced him to the Moon and beyond through his telescope. His love was reignited after finding a free telescope on Craiglist, and now, he has taken hundreds of thousands of photos, astonishing people from all around the world.
On April 1st, McCarthy shared a photo he took of the Moon, writing it's with "the most color detail [he's] ever done." Once you zoom in, you can actually see how different craters expose different minerals.
Last night's moon with the most color detail I've ever done. If you zoom in you can see how different craters expose different minerals from r/interestingasfuck
It is truly breathtaking. And here is another version he captured some time before this shot.
How did he do it?
He explains the process behind the photograph on a Reddit comment, "This was taken last night, and is a blend of around 6,000 individual 16 Megapixel images. This gave me crystal clear color resolution, which I then enhanced to show the subtle variations in mineral content on the moon. The blue areas are titanium-rich, while orange is predominantly Feldspar and Iron."
He apparently used a telescope at 1400mm, and a special astrophotography camera to take the picture. In this video, he explains the equipment he uses in great detail. This is especially great for people who are just starting out with astrophotography.
With all these in mind, it is even more impressive to think that Andrew takes these amazing pictures with the use of a Sony A7 II, a ZWO ASI 224MC CCD camera, an Orion XT10 telescope, and a Skywatcher EQ6-R Pro. And he does all these, from Sacramento, California in his backyard.
His Instagram page is filled with further photos that are just so incredibly stunning. Here are some literally out-of-the-world objects that were captured by his keen eye, dedication, and patience.
According to him, this "Celestial Rose" is one of the most beautiful parts of our night sky. We agree.
In this one, you can actually see a comparison of how he would process pictures before. The difference is jarring and reminds us why you should hold on to your data as an astrophotographer.
Okay, NASA called, they seriously want their wig back. The fact that he took this picture from his light-polluted backyard using around 4 hours of exposures is amazing.
It is hard to believe that you don't need to have the most expensive and complicated gears to capture something like this.
Maybe not as colorful as the subject of this article, but still, breathtaking.
As he puts beautifully, "Every pocket of the night sky has virtually endless complexity and beauty, even the parts that appear empty. The moon is simply a closer example of the beauty that exists everywhere in the universe, and we are lucky to have it."
“The way it hangs there in space is a constant reminder of the powerful physics at play that maintain our very existence. It is quite humbling.”
To give you an idea, this spiral galaxy is 22 million light-years away. In order to capture it, he pointed his telescope to the same part of the sky for 13 hours over a period of several nights.
He used 5 different filters to bring out the details and colors. It is truly stunning.
Here is a beautiful message from McCarthy that we thought we should include at the end of this article. We are going through trying times, and it is hard to stay optimistic, but we are in this together. His message beautifully emphasizes that.
"While we all practice our social distancing and figuring out who to blame for this mess we're all in, the cosmos are unchanged. Our sun simply carries on, the way massive fusion reactions tend to do.
Here's a close look at one of the layers in the sun's atmosphere, the Chromosphere. This is where massive jets of plasma called spicula dominate the surface, caught in a neverending dance against the ever-changing magnetic structure.
Massive amounts of solar material get caught in loops and pulled away from the surface, revealing filaments and prominences that could swallow our whole planet. Our problems are huge to us, but something about how utterly unaffected the universe is by our day-to-day struggles is calming. It'll all work out in the end. Stay positive and stay safe people.
If you would like a quarantine activity later I will be releasing one of my deep space data sets for free to everyone, so you can try your hand at processing it."
McCarthy sells prints at his online store. You can help him further his art and science by adorning the walls of your house with the gorgeous images of the far-away-skies.