Astrophotographer Battles Mosquitos and Stray Dogs for Stunning ISS Photo

International Space Station crossing the Moon.
The ISS crosses a waning crescent Moon.

Backyard astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy captured an amazing view of the International Space Station (ISS) crossing the Moon.

McCarthy had to deal with mosquitos, stray dogs, and local residents as he executed the meticulously planned shoot near his home in Arizona.

To capture the ISS, McCarthy had to drive out to a specific sport in a remote part of Arizona so he could capture the spacecraft in front of the Moon at 06:00.

It meant setting up all of his camera equipment in darkness, including two telescopes just in case one of them fails.

ISS crossing the Moon
Close-up of the International Space Station crossing the Moon.

“Right now I miss about half of these shots I attempt, so using two telescopes helps eliminate variables,” McCarthy explains.

“It also allows me to use both color and monochrome cameras, which have different strengths. This image was captured using both, so I was able to combine the final images to create a photo with much more detail than otherwise possible. I even wanted to use a third telescope but sadly ran out of time to set it up.”

Photo equipment
McCarthy’s camera equipment set up an hour before the ISS was due to cross the Moon.

McCarthy used video to capture the ISS, which is traveling at 17,000 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers per hour). Utilizing a high-frame-rate video, he set the camera’s shutter very high to prevent motion blur.

“At the high focal lengths used, precisely pointing the telescope and timing the capture was very important,” says McCarthy. “Between the two telescopes, I got about 30 shots of the station within about an eighth of a second.”

McCarthy adds that he hopes to inspire a new generation of space explorers with his enthralling imagery.

“These photos are very important to me to share with the world. We’re at a time when we’re so divided, that being able to collectively come together and appreciate the beauty of our universe could be a step towards uniting us,” says McCarthy.

More of McCarthy’s work can be found on his Instagram, X, Facebook, and website.

Image credits: All photos by Andrew McCarthy.