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Photographer captures rare ‘floating’ Moon in south-east France

The image shows the Moon above the mountain-top Observatoire de Saint-Véran in Hautes-Alpes

A French photographer has captured a rare image of the Moon appearing to float above the Observatoire de Saint-Véran in Hautes-Alpes. 

The image shows a soft but defined Moon in a clear blue sky, perfectly aligned with the Observatory, which is one of the highest in Europe, sitting on top of the Pic de Château Renard in the Parc natural régional du Queyras.

It was taken at 08:45 on Monday (September 12) by photographer Jean-François Gely, who is also known by the name Jeff Graphy.

The alignment of the Moon and the Observatory only takes place once or twice a year, so Jeff Graphy had to pick the right moment. 

In order to prepare for the photograph, “I looked and considered the possible meeting points of the Moon and the mountain summit,” he said on Facebook. 

“It meant getting up at 05:00 to be on time.”

He arrived at the site with their best view of the scene, carrying three cameras and three tripods up to a spot 200 metres above the village of Aigue Agnelle.

“You may know Sébastien, the Observatory’s caretaker,” Jeff Graphy continued in his Facebook post. 

“It is him who will welcome you if you spend a week or an evening up there. He is someone who knows his job very well and puts a lot of love into it. 

“A thank you to him for having opened the dome and pointed it in my direction so that we can see the fabulous 62cm telescope.

“It was not easy to coordinate it considering the distance but we managed it!” 

‘A new vision of the places known locally and nationally’

“It is really crazy to have in one image the Moon which is 300,000km away and the Observatory which is 4km away as the crow flies,” JeffGraphy told France 3

The image has attracted significant attention on social media, being liked nearly 2,500 times on Facebook. 

JeffGraphy said that his photography enables him to provide “a new vision of the places which are known locally and nationally, but creating an original image. 

“I want [other] people to enjoy it as well.

“I couldn’t wait to show you this unique moment, and now I can!” he said on Facebook.

A new addition to his gallery space

The photographer said that he has been passionate about astronomy since the age of seven, and has taught himself to use photography to capture the wonders of space.

He is currently working on a series of larch tree photographs taken at night in the Queyras Natural Park. 

Jeff Graphy has his own gallery space in Château-Vieille-Ville (Hautes-Alpes), where visitors can view his night sky images all together and buy a book showcasing his photography work. Further information on this can be found on the photographer’s website

He told The Connexion that his Moon photo will soon be added to the collection on display in the gallery, adding: “This encounter has really delighted [people] on social media since I published it. 

Some “30,000 people have seen it, and 20% of those have engaged with it, which is huge.

“My audience is very aware of the fact that I create authentic photos without tricks, and they really like that.” 

Jeff Graphy’s latest Moon photo was taken using a Canon 6D equipped with a Sky-Watcher 80ED telescope. 

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