This epic 81-megapixel moon photo was stacked from 50,000 images

Feb 19, 2019

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

This epic 81-megapixel moon photo was stacked from 50,000 images

Feb 19, 2019

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Among so many great moon photos out there, it doesn’t happen all too often anymore that one of them makes you stop scrolling and just stare in awe. This is what happened to me when I saw this magnificent moon photo by Andrew McCarthy. Then I read that it’s an 81-megapixel photo, stacked from nearly 50,000 exposures. I reached out to Andrew curious to learn more, and he kindly shared the details of his process with DIYP.

Andrew photographed the night sky on Tuesday, 12 February. Andrew explains that the moon appeared at 44% illumination and he wanted to create this large, detailed photo. Interestingly enough, he didn’t need to search for a special location to shoot: the image was taken from his backyard in Elk Grove, California. He shared the final image on Reddit where it rapidly hit 161 thousands of likes (and counting). But how did he do it?

This image was acquired by taking 50,000 images of the lit surface (25 tiles at 2000 frames each) and stacking the best 50% of the frames. Acquisition was done with a ZWO ASI224MC. The earthshine portion of the moon was captured with a Sony a7II, and was a mosaic of 13 tiles with the best of around 20 images per tile stacked. The stars were taken with a stack of 50 images with the Sony. The telescope I used was an Orion XT10, mounted on a Skywatcher EQ6-R Pro.

When it comes to stacking, Andrew stacked the images using Autostakkert, sharpened them with Registax, and stitched them together with Photoshop. After stacking, it was time for some final adjustments: clone stamping missing/obscured areas, masking, and curves adjustments, which were also done in Photoshop.

Hearing how many photos it took and how big the final image is, I was curious to know how much time it takes to create an image like this. Andrew told me that the acquisition took him about an hour, the software processing/stacking around two hours, and the manual processing between three and four hours. Sounds like a painstaking process, but I’d say it was totally worth it!

Below you can see the final image, but make sure to view it in its full glory via this link. Also check out Andrew’s Solar System composite, another one of his great works we featured here. Finally, don’t forget to follow Andrew on Instagram, and you can also order prints of his fantastic images through his online store.

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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13 responses to “This epic 81-megapixel moon photo was stacked from 50,000 images”

  1. Ian Brace Avatar
    Ian Brace

    I’ve done a max of 21 before and I don’t think my PC would cope with the merge.

  2. Вергунов Сергей Avatar
    Вергунов Сергей

    Have they found any evidence of supposed US moon missions?

    1. Ed Selby Avatar
      Ed Selby

      Other than the reflectors you can bounce a laser beam off of?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_retroreflectors_on_the_Moon

    2. Ed Selby Avatar
      Ed Selby

      yes

    3. Вергунов Сергей Avatar
      Вергунов Сергей

      Yes, others. Retroreflectors can be delivered by an unmanned engine…

    4. Jeff Wainright Avatar
      Jeff Wainright

      A decent telescope will show shadows on the lunar surface cast by what was left behind on the lunar surface. Those shadows are going to be as close as you can get to seeing the objects on the Moon’s surface – even the Hubble can’t clearly visualize objects on the lunar surface.

  3. Phi Pham Avatar
    Phi Pham

    Ian Sleeper

  4. Duncan Knifton Avatar
    Duncan Knifton

    Stunning !!!

  5. Ricardo Marnoto Avatar
    Ricardo Marnoto

    I’m curious what specs are needed on the computer to handle that merge.

    1. Timothyf7 Avatar
      Timothyf7

      Some kind of monster… I stacked 75 and it took about 25-30 minutes.

  6. Jade Holing Avatar
    Jade Holing

    50 000? Why?

    1. TDM27 Avatar
      TDM27

      Probably high framerate video. At 60 fps, it equals about 14 minutes video. More frames means more data, and the ability to use only the best frames, or images.