Science & Nature

This jaw-dropping Jupiter photo is a photographer’s sharpest ever and made of 600,000 images

This jaw-dropping Jupiter photo is a photographer's sharpest ever and made of 600,000 images thumbnail

Ultra-sharp photo of Jupiter by photographer Andrew McCarthy uses 600,000 images

Astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy of Arizona captured this stunning view of Jupiter by stacking 600,000 images of the planet to create his sharpest view ever. See more of McCarthy’s images on Instagram (opens in new tab). (Image credit: Andrew McCarthy/https://www.instagram.com/cosmic_background/)

One photo of Jupiter may be worth a thousand words, but what about more than half a million?

Veteran astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy of Arizona unveiled this spectacular photo of Jupiter this month on Sept. 17 after capturing his best view yet of the giant planet this month. But what you’re seeing isn’t just one photo, it’s a combination of hundreds of thousands of images.

“After spending all night shooting around 600,000 photos of it, I’m thrilled to show you my sharpest Jupiter shot so far,” McCarthy wrote on Twitter (opens in new tab) while sharing the image on Sept. 17. “This was captured using an 11″ telescope and a camera I usually use for deep sky work.” You can see more of McCarthy’s photos on his Instagram page  @cosmic_background (opens in new tab) as well as his astrophotography website (opens in new tab)

Related: See Jupiter at its closest point to Earth since 1963

McCarthy uses software to stack multiple images taken during a night sky photo session and the results are stunning. He used a similar technique to take a “ridiculously detailed” image of the moon that took months.  Jupiter, he said, is always a great target for his camera eye. 

“Viewing Jupiter never gets old. It is a magnificent planet,” McCarthy told Space.com in a statement. “And while the number of photos seems like a lot, I was capturing them at about 80 per second, so it went by relatively fast.” In all, it took about two hours to snap the photos, he added. 

READ:  New Ultrahot Jupiter Contains Iron in Its Atmosphere

“Conditions were very good that night so I saw the planet in much more detail than usual, which was very exciting,” McCarthy added.

Full view of Andrew MCarthy's Jupiter photo

This is astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy’s full view of Jupiter created from 600,000 images stacked to create an ultra-sharp view. ” (Image credit: Andrew McCarthy/https://www.instagram.com/cosmic_background/)

Viewing Jupiter never gets old. It is a magnificent planet.

— Andrew McCarthy

Jupiter is will be at opposition for 2022 on Sept. 26, making this the best time to observe the giant planet this year. It can easily be seen with the unaided eye as a bright light in the eastern night sky.

This year, the planet’s opposition will mark Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth in 59 years. It will be 367 million miles (591 million kilometers) away, the closest its been to Earth since 1963.

If you’re hoping to get a better look at Jupiter in the future and are looking for gear to help you, check out our guides for the best binoculars and the best telescopes to spot the giant planet and other celestial sights. 

For capturing the best Jupiter pictures, don’t miss our recommendations for the best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography. Here are our tips on astrophotography for beginners to help you get started.

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com (opens in new tab) or follow him @tariqjmalik (opens in new tab). Follow us @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab)Facebook (opens in new tab) and Instagram (opens in new tab).

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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com’s Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.

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