January 27, 2023

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A photographer capturing a magical moment from Mars emerges from behind the Moon

A photographer capturing a magical moment from Mars emerges from behind the Moon

Astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy It captured Mars rising behind the full moon that temporarily eclipsed the red planet in the night sky Wednesday.

McCarthy says petapixel He has been monitoring the rare celestial event over the course of 2022 so he can get great pictures of Mars looking out from behind the moon.

“I had to start learning more about planetary photography, so I spent the summer photographing planets every night to learn the best tricks,” he says.

“I also needed a better telescope than I had, so I found one in Los Angeles and picked it up a few weeks ago.”

Aside from the new telescope, McCarthy also needed a new camera.

“The reason for this is because the Moon is moving so fast relative to Mars that I only have a short window to capture it at a particular location, so traditional capture timeframes no longer apply,” he explains.

“In fact, I had to limit the capture to just 10 seconds or the motion of Mars would blur the image. None of my equipment could handle doing it in a way that would produce the kind of results I wanted.”

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Wednesday’s celestial event, known as a lunar occultation, was particularly noteworthy because Earth was directly between Mars and the Sun, known as an opposition, which makes the Red Planet appear particularly bright in the night sky.

“This event happened while Mars was relatively low on the horizon, which means I would see more of the atmosphere,” McCarthy adds.

To help combat local terrestrial air currents “blurring” the image, I set up a telescope by my pool (there Photo on my twitter If you want to see) stabilizing the air when pointing above it.”

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McCarthy operated four telescopes as a backup in case anything went wrong, but his main telescope was a 14-inch Dobsonian that was tracking the spot on the moon where Mars would appear.

The final image is a mosaic, as the field of view was very small [see above video]. After the event, I moved my telescope to fill in the areas of the moon that I wanted to include in the final image.”

More of McCarthy’s work can be found at his site InstagramAnd the TwitterAnd the website.


Image credits: All photos by Andrew McCarthy.