Moon Photographed in Stunning Detail From Arizona Backyard: 'Zoom In'

A photographer in Arizona has captured the moon in stunning detail from his own backyard.

Andrew McCarthy, from Florence, Arizona, snapped the celestial shot on March 4 while the moon was in its last phase before the full "Worm" moon on March 7.

In a post on Twitter that has received over 13,000 likes, McCarthy encouraged his followers to "zoom in and check out the details" on this "obscenely high resolution" shot.

1 of 3

"This is the waxing gibbous moon, captured as a mosaic by using 180,000 individual images," McCarthy told Newsweek. "The final image was 183 megapixels, allowing you to faintly see details as small as a quarter mile wide on the surface. The colors have been elevated to reveal the mineral composition."

The waxing gibbous moon is the fourth phase of the moon cycle, between the half moon and the full moon. "Waxing" means increasing, because the moon's illuminated surface area is increasing during this phase. Gibbous means "hunchback" and it describes the moon's humped shape as it approaches the full moon.

McCarthy bought his first telescope "on a whim" in 2017. "The first thing I saw through it was Jupiter and Saturn, and I was instantly hooked," he said.

He has now built his own homemade observatory with an 11 inch telescope mounted on a pier that he uses for shots like these.

To capture such high resolution shots of the moon, McCarthy uses a technique called "lucky imaging." This is where thousands of photos are taken over the course of a few minutes and stacked together using software.

"It makes the image wayyy clearer," McCarthy said. "This is due to the atmosphere. When you're that zoomed in through miles of atmosphere, it ripples with the currents, destroying your image. The software analyzes the images looking for the ones where this effect is the least pronounced, then stacks and sharpens them."

Close up detail of the moon
By stacking the images, McCarthy was able to capture the moon in stunning detail. Andrew McCarthy / @AJamesMcCarthy

McCarthy described his work as a "wonderful rabbit hole."

"It is a constant reminder of the vastness of our universe, and how trivial my Earthly problems are. It's good for my soul and sharing it with others to give them that perspective makes me feel like I'm doing something truly positive for the world," he said.

McCarthy said that he is still learning and wants to encourage other people to turn their cameras to the stars. "There's nothing special about me...anyone can do this," he said. "The universe is far more accessible than you'd think."

The full high resolution image can be viewed on McCarthy's Patreon.