In sub-zero temperatures on clear, cloudless nights, moisture in the air becomes heavier and drops (forming dew/frost etc.). Cold, clear nights are always much clearer, the stars look brighter and don't seem to shimmer, so does the moon. The desert would naturally have less pollution (and moisture), removing that from the equation too to a large degree. Also, at the relatively low resolution, any imperfections wouldn't show up. I think on that score, it can't be debunked. However, the differences in exposure between the moon and stars are problematic. It isn't something I've tried, so I don't know if there would be enough dynamic range to show both or not, but post-processing would help to even up the differences too. Without trying, I don't know whether it is possible to even up the exposures or not. Another possibility is a blend of two TIFFs from a single RAW file.