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Craters of the moon, now viewable from Instagram and Reddit

The moon, photographed by cosmic_background on Instagram Image copyright cosmic_background/instagram

Amateur space photographer Andrew McCarthy, or 'space nerd' as he calls himself on his Instagram account, has a passion for astronomy, thanks to his dad introducing him to the moon through his telescope when he was a child.

The Sacramento-based software worker has taken hundreds of thousands of photos, and one in particular that he shared on social media forum Reddit has gained 74,000 upvotes.

His 81 megapixel shot came about after an evening's work on May 7, as part of his current project to take pictures of the moon every day for one month.

"I take as many photos as possible, using two cameras and a telescope patched to a tracking mouse that compensates for the rotation of the earth," Andrew told the BBC, after which follows a lot of post production, "that gives me a nice clear, crisp image."

His post also includes the ability for users to zoom in to see individual craters.

It was thanks to a free telescope Andrew found on Craig's list two years ago, that his passion was reignited, and he started to share his images on social media.

"I like to post in a variety of communities to introduce new people to this hobby," he said, "What I like might be different to what others like. I like the deep space stuff."

One image in particular, which he posted on February 25, is one of his most popular and was even picked up by the media in Russia and India.

Image copyright cosmic_background/Instagram
Image caption One of Andrew's favourite photos has also been shared on Russian and Indian media.

So far, it has gained 23,000 likes on Instagram.

Andrew says he tries to answer as many comments as he can and is impressed by the positive posts.

"I take the time to reply, and for those who want more information about how to get started, I take those offline."

He now has a massive queue of people in his inbox of people who want to talk to him about his creations.

But how does the average person improve their pictures of the moon and planets?

Andrew admits that photos taken by a mobile phone aren't so good. "My advice is to get into forums, communities and pick up tips from there."

Of course, there have been many attempts at great photos of the moon and beyond, as Andrew says, "Practice makes perfect."

Produced by the BBC's UGC team

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