An internationally renowned astrophotographer put his eye strain on the job to get a spectacular image of Venus passing perilously close by the sun.

Andrew McCarthy (US), takes striking, detailed photographs of astronomical items and posts them to social media using the hashtag @Cosmic_Background

His latest creation was a spectacular view of Venus at just five degrees from sun. He used his own eyesight to capture the image. 

He could not see the target of Earth’s “evil twin” world without a telescope. 

McCarthy stated that this was the most hazardous shot he’d ever tried. He also said that he could have blinded himself if he attempted to view the shot visually. 

A world famous astrophotographer risked his own eyesight in a bid to capture a stunning image of Venus as it passed perilously close to the sun

An internationally renowned astrophotographer put his eyeight at risk to capture stunning images of Venus while it was passing perilously close the sun.

Andrew McCarthy, from Arizona, US, takes some of the most striking and detailed images of astronomical objects, and shares them online as CosmicBackground

Andrew McCarthy (from Arizona, USA) captures some of the most impressive and detailed images ever taken of astronomical items and then shares them online under CosmicBackground


Venus, second planet from sun is a rock world approximately the same size and weight as Earth.

However, its atmosphere is radically different to ours – being 96 per cent carbon dioxide and having a surface temperature of 867°F (464°C) and pressure 92 times that of on the Earth.

It is covered with clouds of sulphuric acids that obscure the planet’s surface.

There has been speculation that Venus had oceans like Earth’s in the past. However, these could have vanished as Venus underwent an uncontrolled greenhouse effect.

Venus’ surface is an area of dry desert that is constantly being changed by volcanic activity.


Period of orality: 225 Days

The surface area: 460.2 million km²

Distance from the Sun: 108.2 million km

The length of the day: 116d 18h 0m

Radius6:051.8 km

Mass: 4.867 × 10^24 kg (0.815 M⊕)

For the latest image, McCarthy wanted to capture Venus as it was bathed in the light from the nearby sun — but this is a tricky picture to get.

“Venus was so near to the sun that I had to stand infront of my telescope while I took the picture to prevent the sunlight from reaching it,” the astrophotographer stated.

“Any bad move when trying to find Venus may result in you accidentally letting the sun’s rays into your scope. It would ruin my camera instantly.

The planet is almost directly in front of sunlight, so the light looks like a circle around Venus. This highlights the surface of hot earth, while the sun scatters in the atmosphere creating silhouettes of the shadowed.

“Ordinarily, Venus photography is no more risky than other planets. McCarthy said that the situation isn’t dangerous.

‘But on this particular day, Venus was less than 5 degrees away from the sun, which meant the slightest mistake and the sun’s light could reach focus within the telescope, which would be a disaster.

“My telescope was not filtered, pointed dangerously near the sun and at a target that I couldn’t see until it was within frame.”

McCarthy took care to plan a safe approach for taking this extremely dangerous photo in order to mitigate potential dangers.

He stated, “I began by looking at the sun with a telescope. I used a filter to align my telescope’s position and the computer that controlled the mount.

“By telling the camera to move to Venus’s location, I could ensure that I didn’t have to go out hunting for it and end up with my camera being accidentally burned by the sun’s rays.”

“Once I knew the sun was not in the frame, I took out the filter and began to see the planet. 

The astrophotographer even made a video showing the effects of direct sunlight into a telescope - by scorching a piece of wood in just a few seconds

An astrophotographer made even a video showing what direct sunlight does to a telescope. He did this by heating a piece wood in only a few seconds.

The planet wasn't visible with the filter attached, but the filter was needed during positioning to reduce the risk of harming the camera or his eyesight

While the filter wasn’t necessary to see the planet, the filter was required during positioning to decrease the possibility of damage to the camera or the eyesight.

While the planet couldn’t be seen without the filter attached to it, the filter was required during positioning to decrease the possibility of damage to the camera or the eyesight. 

“It was not without its challenges. It took me several tries before the planet could be centred in my field of vision, but this felt like the best way to go.

A video was even created by the astrophotographer showing how direct sunlight can affect a telescope. He did this by burning a small piece of wood for just seconds.

McCarthy is world-famous for sharing images via social media under @Cosmic_Background.

The dedicated astrophotographer gazes through his telescope for hours, taking pictures of comets passing close to Earth and zooming in on the surface of the moon.

He captures images, such as a detailed view of the sun’s surface, using tens to thousands of photos in order to collect lots of information.