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This Solar System Photo Was Shot From a Photographer’s Backyard


Check out this family portrait of our solar system. It’s a composite photo created by a single astrophotographer who photographed the planets from his own backyard in Sacramento, California.

Photographer Andrew McCarthy shot the individual photos with a Sony a7 II camera, Canon 60D, ZWO ASI224MC color astronomy camera, Orion XT10 telescope, Meade 2120 telescope, and Skywatcher EQ6-R Pro equatorial mount.

The background Milky Way photo was shot using the Meade telescope with a Canon 60D and 28-80mm lens (at 28mm). It’s a single 2-minute exposure at f/9 and ISO 3200.

Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter were captured with the Orion telescope and ZWO camera using 8,000 to 10,000 frames each that were then stacked in Autostakkert. Uranus was shot with the Orion, Skywatcher, and Sony a7 II using a single 30-second exposure at ISO 6400.

The ISS was shot using the Orion and ZWO with 25,000 frames captured (with 25 handpicked frames aligned and stacked). Comet 46p/Wirtanen was shot with the Orion, Skywatcher, and Sony a7 II with 60 separate 30-second exposures at ISO 6400.

The Moon was captured with the Orion, Skywatcher, and ZWO with 1,000 frames. The Sun was shot with the Orion, Skywatcher, and Sony a7 II as a single 1/200s exposure at ISO 50.

Once he had all the individual photos he needed, McCarthy arranged the objects over the Milky Way background using Photoshop. Here’s a closer look at the composite photo that resulted:

You can find more of McCarthy’s work on his Instagram account, @cosmic_background.

Image credits: Photographs by Andrew McCarthy and used with permission