It started as a visual gag involving the moon, a radio telescope and bit of Photoshopping - but it turned into an internet hit with more than 2 million views and counting.

Kerikeri man Chris Pegman's usual hobby is astro-photography, capturing the night sky in hugely detailed panoramic images.

Last Friday, however, he was having a bit of fun with a couple of photos. One was a night-time panorama of a radio telescope at Warkworth, taken last year for an online photo challenge; the other was a shot of the "supermoon" - when the moon is at its closest point to the Earth, making it looker bigger than usual - taken from Kerikeri a few months ago.

He combined the two so the moon was resting perfectly in the radio dish and, chuckling to himself, uploaded the result to his Flickr page and an online photo competition called 500px. A few hours later a friend called to say his photo had gone viral.


Someone had posted it on Imgur, a photo-sharing site. From there, someone else had posted it on Reddit. The image then popped up on Twitter and a raft of Facebook pages, including one dedicated to all things Warkworth.

As of yesterday, Mr Pegman's composite photo had been viewed more than 2.18 million times on Imgur alone.

It also sparked debate about whether the image had been Photoshopped (it has) and whether it would be possible to create the image without Photoshop (the verdict was that it might be, but it would require an incredible amount of planning.)

Mr Pegman was delighted it had proved so popular and is now "chasing his tail" trying to attach his name to an image that was continuing to multiply across the internet.

It showed that anything posted online was liable to be stolen, he said.

"I was just having fun ... I didn't realise the gem I'd created."

The radio telescope image was taken on a Canon 6D with a 24m lens and consists of three photos stitched together. The supermoon was shot with a 70-200mm lens.

Step-by-step guide to creating an internet sensation