Photographer Who Captured Moon Photobombing Saturn Explains How He Did It

The astrophotographer managed to capture Saturn taking a peek at Earth from behind the Moon in 2014.
Derya Ozdemir

You might have never seen Moon this big and Saturn this small: In one of the biggest photography challenges of all time, amateur astronomer and astrophotographer Paul Stewart from Timaru, New Zealand captured a wonderful photo of Saturn taking a peek at Earth from behind the Moon in 2014. 


A conjunction of Saturn and the Moon

What you're seeing above is an occultation of Saturn and the Moon: Sometimes planets and moon lines up and not-so-literally "touch" in the sky and we call these astronomical events conjunctions.

While they are relatively common, they can be easy to miss; however, thanks to astrophotographers that have their gears directed at the sky nonstop, we get to see them like no other humans were able to experience.

Capturing the shot was not an easy feat

In such a case, astrophotographer Stewart was able to take the picture of Moon eclipsing Saturn back in 2014. The magnificent photograph has resurfaced lately, with a PetaPixel interview detailing the process behind it.

According to Stewart, the picture is made up of three photographs with the first one being the base picture of Saturn behind the Moon. He was able to uncover Saturn and the Moon individually in the following shots and composite the objects. This enabled him to "deliver out the main points of every."

He told PetaPixel, "It’s a little bit of a cheat however due to the excessive floor brightness of the Moon and low brightness of Saturn, it’s inconceivable to get a great picture of the occultation with only one shot."

You can check out these example photos by Stewart showing how different exposes directly affect the outcome. As you can see, exposing the Moon underexposes Saturn, while exposing for Saturn overexposes the Moon.

Source: Paul Stewart/PetaPixel

He also captured another occultation of Saturn and the Moon back in 2019 in New Zealand. He wrote: "Saturn just after it came out from behind the Moon last night." 

Source: @upsidedownastronomer/Instagram

Those budding astrophotographers who are out to capture their own snaps or who just simply want to enjoy looking at more photos of the space can find Stewart's other works on his website and Instagram.