Have you ever taken a photo of the shining stars? Or captured the mesmerizing moon view? If yes, then you have already entered the amazing world of astrophotography. If not, then just spare your 2 minutes here and see what you are missing!
Astrophotography will give you a tour to the gigantic universe out there. It will let you enjoy the best views of astronomical or celestial events and objects. Here you will get to enjoy the views with different appearances every time.
Get acquainted with the basic information of astrophotography like the definition, basic equipment, tips and techniques with us. All the sections are outlined after a branch of detailed research and analysis that will help you to have a clear concept about astrophotography. Interested to know more? Let's get started.
What is Astrophotography?
Astrophotography is a genre of photography and videography that involves astronomical objects and events such as the milky way, panoramas, auroras, meteor showers, star trails, constellations, planets, galaxies etc. You can call it “Astronomical imaging” , that is also conventional. In simple words, if you take images or videos of the night sky objects, you are doing astrophotography.
Let's break it a little more and learn three new Greek words from it. If you break ‘Astrophotography' into two parts, you get ‘Astro' and ‘photography'. ‘Astro‘ came from the word ‘ástron' relating to the celestial body and ‘photography‘ came from the Greek words ‘photos' meaning ‘light' and ‘graphein' which means ‘to draw'.
However, astrophotography is an art of how fairly you capture the astonishing night sky objects. It is an art of how flawlessly you are taking pictures and how much skill you possess in capturing the wonders of night sky in a simple click.
You can make astrophotography your hobby or can take it as your occupation too. Because of the advancement of science and technology, astro- imaging became much easier for you to reach.
Furthermore, astro imaging lets you spend some solitude time with nature as you need a dark sky away from city light pollution for a better astro-photo. Thus, you will get to plan trips. If you are already a travel lover, then it will be like a cherry over cake for you.
Why not take your pets with you too? They surely crave for your time throughout your hectic schedule. Or maybe your friends or family. You can have a long drive with them while reaching the remote area. You can flaunt your astro-images and make them interested in astrophotography too.
What Do You Need for Astrophotography?
A DSLR or mirrorless camera with a tripod and equatorial mount, is all you need to start astrophotography. Or just simply start with your smartphone. Try to find ways to make the best use of the gears that you already have. Just go out and capture the night sky.
Immerse yourself in those amazing views. Don't pressurize yourself. You don't need to be a professional from the very beginning. Once you start enjoying the whole process, you will be able to go to the next level faster. Then, add up more gears accordingly for getting better astro-images.
There are numerous gears that can be included in your astrophotography kit. Each and every one of those will make the photos better. We made a general list of equipment for a professional level astrophotography. You can skip one or two accordingly. Besides, there are so many options in the market that you can go along with your budget. Start small and keep going steadily. Take a look at the general list of equipment-
- Remote shutter release
- Equatorial mount
- Portable power supply
- Guider scope
- Guider camera
- Polar scope
- Dew heater
- Photo processing softwares
Learn more about astrophotography equipment for beginners.
How is Astrophotography Done? (Step by Step)
Attaching a camera to a telescope, you can do astrophotography. Assembling the gears, dialing in certain settings, clicking pictures and processing them are the main steps to follow. Either you are capturing with just your smartphone or a telescope, you need to change the settings depending on the target.
But first, you need to have a clear concept of the general process. Research for every single step separately. Get ready to face challenges even after a long research and planning. But understanding the general professional level method will definitely be helpful while dealing with difficulties. So, Let's learn the steps of astrophotography-
- Set the tripod. Try choosing a plain place so that the tripod stays still.
- Attach the equatorial mount with the tripod. An equatorial mount would make up with the rotation of the earth and help the camera to capture the target.
- At this point, attach the telescope and put the camera on the telescope lens. Connect the camera with wireless or cable remote release to click pictures without causing extra shake.
- Make the settings manually. Set white balance, ISO, exposure length, polar alignment etc. carefully and according to the objects you want to capture.
- Connect the set up with your computer or laptop.
- When you're done till step 5, start clicking pictures. As the pictures might get blurry for extra movement, complication in focus or for many other reasons, take piles of photos of every single frame to have several options to get the best ones.
- Process them with dedicated softwares. There are so many astrophotography softwares available to get the best out of your astro-images and videos.
Can You Do Astrophotography With A Mobile Phone?
Yes, you can do a basic level of astrophotography with your smartphone. In general, smartphones with advanced camera facilities, can capture the stars and do lunar astrophotography but not at a detailed level. However, by using additional smartphone apps for astrophotography, you can have more detailed and focused astro images.
Besides, if you already have a telescope, you can capture images by holding your smartphone in front of the eyepiece. This is called afocal astrophotography. It will let you have better astro- images than only with smartphone camera lenses as the eyepiece will magnify the view.
Keep in mind that you will face problems like diffraction, chromatic aberration etc. because of the several optical components in between the target object and camera. Moreover, this setup is a little unsteady, thus the images tend to get blurry easily. You can use a smartphone adapter to lessen this problem.
Like everything else, using a smartphone for astrophotography has its own pros and cons. It is difficult to take a sharp and detailed image of the night sky with a smartphone. But you can still get a good astro-image of less detail with it, if you do it properly with additional apps or in afocal method and it is comparatively inexpensive!
Basic Astrophotography Tips
Astrophotography is all about photographing the night sky in the best possible way. But you can not master astrophotography overnight. Even after spending a lot of time in it, there would be room for improvement every time. Everyday, you can capture better. You might get something new to capture or might get better shots from a different angle. By following some simple techniques, you can speed up that process of improving. Here are some basic tips for you-
- Try to find a remote place. City light causes light pollution that can nearly destroy your astro images.
- A light pollution filter can be really handy if you are not much away from the city. Even a ray of light can block out the view and so it is better to use a light pollution filter when you are not so far away from the city.
- If you are not doing lunar astrophotography, then choose a dark night. Dark nights will let you capture the brighter view of fainter objects.
- Take time to set up the gears in a proper way. Do not rush. Take time, do proper alignment and focus on the objects you want to capture.
- Use a remote shutter release to prevent the setup from losing focus. Clicking the camera manually can cause trouble while capturing so many pictures at a time. Moreover, a remote shutter will save your camera from extra shaking.
- Keep an extra portable power supply.
- Use manual settings for controlling the imaging time to time. That will give you a better experience.
- Try to shoot in RAW image format with the exposure length of 15 to 30 seconds.
- Use fast aperture and put the white balance settings in daylight.
How Hard is Astrophotography?
Astrophotography is not quite hard. But it needs you to have basic astronomical and weather knowledge along with lots of patience, plenty of your time and a good amount of money to spend on. Thus if you are not passionate about it, then this field might not be an ideal choice for you in the long term.
To get a professional level astro-image, you might end up spending several sleepless nights outside in the tough weather. You will feel the need to add up more gears or will need to do maintenance of the gears from time to time to take better shots. It will add up a decent amount in your monthly budget. Even after studying and spending time and money, you will have to keep practicing for a long time to get one perfect shot.
However, it is worth taking the trouble. Once you succeed in capturing the night sky, the reward will make you forget the pain of all payslips and sleepless nights. So, don't give up. All you need is to stay prepared and have a proper plan to deal with the difficulties while doing astrophotography.
If you are interested in astrophotography, then do go for it. Start today. Keep clicking, keep trying. Pile up your computer storage. Adore the walls of your house with your astro- images. Just keep going no matter what comes. Who knows you might be the next one of the most successful astrophotographers!