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"The Most Ridiculously Detailed" Moon Photo Ever Captured Is Finally Available

The world has been awed by a stunning new image of the moon that has gone viral, but it was not taken by NASA.

Instead, it was the outcome of a two-year project in which two astronomers took "the most insanely precise" pictures of Earth's lunar neighbour.

The 174-megapixel image, which you can download, was made public for the first time on Reddit on Saturday. It shows the moon's colours, craters, and glowing halo in astounding detail.

Together with planetary scientist and fellow photographer Connor Matherne, who is renowned for his stunning astrophotography abilities, Andrew McCarthy created a series of stunning astrophotography images of galaxies and nebulae.

Reddit and Instagram allowed for the partnership.

In an Instagram post he wrote about it, McCarthy described their final product as "the most crazily detailed moon image we could come up with."

They created a gigantic image of the moon by combining more than 200,000 photos taken of it using a technique called "photo stitching."

It’s also a tribute to NASA’s Artemis I mission, which is an uncrewed flight test that, according to the space agency, “will provide a foundation for human deep exploration and demonstrate our commitment and capability to return humans to the moon and extend beyond.”

The stunning photograph was given the name “The Hunt for Artemis.”

On August 29, 2022, the launch of Artemis I is anticipated to take place between the hours of 8:30 and 10:30 a.m.

“In 9 days, a human-rated lunar rocket will launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida,” McCarthy wrote on Instagram over the weekend, “demonstrating our capability for manned lunar missions for the first time in 50 years.”

The pair of astrophotographers managed to capture significant color data highlighting the reds, grays, blues and browns that help make the moon so unique.

McCarthy stated on Reddit that the image would have been a “dreary gray” if Matherne’s capacity to gather this data hadn’t been available.

“The color in this image is real, but presented with increased saturation so it is easily visible to our eyes,” he wrote.

“The reddish tones demonstrate areas rich in iron and feldspar, while the bluish areas are spots where the regolith is rich in titanium. Oxidization from influence from Earth’s atmosphere makes the colors appear like they do.”


To capture all of the color and details on the moon’s surface, Andrew McCarthy and Connor Matherne focused on different aspects of the shoot. McCarthy shot over 200,000 images focusing on the moon’s details and Matherne shot another 500 to capture the vibrant colors.

“Each tile is made up of thousands of photos,” he added.

“When he and I put our heads together we were able to make something a little off brand for both of us, which is cool,” McCarthy told NPR.

“The whole thing is assembled like a mosaic, and each tile is made up of thousands of photos.”

Prints of the photograph can be purchased on McCarthy’s website.

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