An astro-photographer from California, Andrew McCarthy, has accidentally managed to get a one-in-a-million shot of a jumbo jet silhouetted by the sun.
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Andrew is used to taking photos of the sun and has been doing so for over two years, but no image has ever compared to this one of a United Airlines flight 425 practically flying across the sun!
Initially, the photographer was just trying to get a picture of the prominences, ‘the little tufts of plasma hanging off the limb’, when the incredible scene unfolded right before him.
During one of his batches of photos, a plane ‘happened to perfectly intersect the middle of the sun’ and it took the jet a mere second to fly across. Andrew shared, ‘I am far from an airport, and in my two years of shooting the sun, this is the first time I’ve captured a plane like this.’
He continued, ‘Each image I capture of the sun is a stack of thousands of shots, and I’ve perhaps done this hundreds of times – which would make this shot close to one-in-a-million to catch by accident like this.’
He explained, ‘The plane itself is only visible when silhouetting the sun – but since the contrails are scattering the same light from the sun they are briefly visible. This gives the illusion that the surface of the sun was pulled out briefly.’
After the impressive snapshot, the photographer used publicly available flight information to determine which plane it was. The pilot of the jet then saw the image on social media and was so impressed that he reached out to McCarthy asking for prints!