If a picture’s worth a thousand words, what are one of Andrew McCarthy’s composite photographs made from hundreds of thousands of high definition digital pictures worth? 

A lot of words, that’s for sure. And anywhere between $50-60 according to the prices on his website. Which is honestly a steal, considering all that goes into capturing these images. Photographing sun-surface explosions, erupting nebulas, streaking comets and glaring full moons in ultra-high-definition-composites from your backyard, takes a lot of planning. He’s got to account for weather, cloud coverage, humidity, light pollution from the city, light pollution from the moon, and a thousand other factors when he’s trying to create one of his iconic cosmic pictures. 

And yet, he maintains that he isn’t doing anything you couldn’t do yourself. 

“I'm just a normal guy with a telescope ,” McCarthy says. “I want to just reiterate as much as possible that everything I'm doing absolutely anybody could do.”

Which might be true. If you’ve got the right telescopic photography equipment, the right eye for a good shot, a passion for building composites and talent for editing deep space photos of galaxies far, far away. 

Is it science? Is it art? It’s a fine line, McCarthy says. 

“I consider my [Instagram] page more of an artist account than a science account,” he explains, even though so much science goes into making every shot. “Ultimately what I'm really out to do is just create pretty pictures.”