Andrew McCarthy claims he’s “just a normal guy with a telescope,” but he’s probably just being humble. The astrophotographer with a huge following on social media has spent an entire month taking photos of the moon during its transited zenith. He took over 2 million individual photos, which he stitched together in an amazing GIF showing the moon wobble as if it were dancing in the sky.
Not every night was suitable for observations. Sometimes it rained, other times his telescope was engulfed by a dust storm. But McCarthy persevered as he traveled across different observation positions across Arizona, and managed to fix the variations in day-to-day observations using clever postprocessing.
When stitched together, the different photos show the moon wagging or wavering. This phenomenon is called libration is caused by changes in the observer’s perspective as a result of the moon’s slightly tilted axis and elliptical orbit. Thanks to libration we can see slightly different hemispheres of the lunar surface at different times. The beautiful composite image below shows the moon’s phase during each night of observation.
“I thought the motion would tell a really nice story of the Moon’s dynamic presence around Earth. I’m very passionate about spreading my love for the Moon, as I believe humanity establishing a man’s presence there would get more public support if everyone loved it as much as I do,” McCarthy told My Modern Met.
McCarthy has other great content that is worth watching, including a video showing what the moon would look like with seas and an atmosphere or the International Space Station darting across the moon.
@cosmic_background Should we terraform the moon? #astrophotography #space #cosmos #astronomy #science #telescope #cosmic #moon #lunar #apollo #artemis #terraform ♬ Shine On You Crazy Diamond – Dark Side of the Moon
@cosmic_background Ever seen the International Space Station? #ISS #astronomy #space #astrophotography #nasa #cosmos #moon #telescope ♬ No Time for Caution – Hans Zimmer