On February 23, a photographer from Sacramento, Andrew McCarthy, shared a picture of the Supermoon during its closest point to Earth. You could see subtle shades of color in the extremely sharp color image. Still, McCarthy says that the atmosphere prevented him from getting “the crystal-clarity that I would have liked.”
In most photos of the Moon, you don’t see these colors showing through, but as it turns out, McCarthy was about to go much further. He used an ultra-high-resolution 81-megapixel camera to take the Supermoon picture, according to PetaPixel.
The results look like they were made with expensive equipment, but the astrophotography enthusiast used relatively inexpensive equipment to capture and combine some 50,000 photos in Photoshop and imaging software called AutoStakkert!.
“A lot of selective masking, histogram stretching, and contrast adjustments were necessary to get the look I wanted,” he says.
As beautiful and stunning as his images are, McCarthy took it to the next level when he extracted the color data from 150,000 moon images to create a picture of the moon like you’ve never seen before. The colors reveal minerals on the lunar surface
McCarthy posted the images to Reddit, where he explained how he created “the most avante-garde” moon shot to date.
“The color was already in that picture, hidden behind the glare of the moon’s albedo, and represents the mineral content of our moon,” wrote McCarthy.
The photographer says the colorful image is how the moon would appear if our eyes were more sensitive.
“While my previous images showed you the detail you could see if your eyes were sharper, this one shows you what the moon could look like if our eyes and brain were much more sensitive to color.”
“The blues denote high titanium content, and oranges represent low titanium content in the basalt,” he continued.
Next, he explained how he was able to accurately capture the moon’s colors.
“Because I took so many shots to average out the blurring caused by atmospheric turbulence, as well as to eliminate noise captured by the camera sensor, the accuracy of the subtle coloration of the moon was incredibly high, allowing me to apply saturation and contrast adjustments to create this moonstrosity,” he wrote.
The embellished “Mineral Map of the moon” is spectacular.
You can watch an animation showing the transformation from the Supermoon photograph to the moon in full glorious technicolor below. It’s like going from Kansas to the Land of Oz.
Click through the arrows on the left and right to see each image and the video.
His latest post is a compilation of his favorite moon shots from the last lunar cycle.
“Because of the high resolution and square image, it can be cropped to fit any device and still look good. It spans my 3 monitors nicely,” he says.
Featured image: Screenshot via Instagram/cosmic_background