Smartphone Astrophotography: A Detail Guide in 2021

Last month, we buddies went on a trip outside far away from the madding crowd leaving behind the polluted town with contaminated air and excessive noise. We breathed the fresh air and enjoyed the calmness of nature under a clear starry sky. It was more fun than I thought about and we came back with tons of memories. Some of my friends who were quite enthusiastic about astronomy could shoot fuzzy stars with some challenging targets in the deep night sky and even it was possible with their tiny phone camera. Yes, you read the right words!

Smartphone Astrophotography
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Astrophotography typically does not require heavy-duty DSLR or other mirrorless cameras. You can do astrophotography of the night sky object with your smartphone using some efficient device and photo apps. It will make astrophotography easy if you have basic knowledge about photography.

Here, you will get introduced to the latest phones used in astronomy, all the stuff required to be a good astronomer with a smartphone. It looks like magic but actually, it’s not.

What is astrophotography?

Astrophotography is the term that captures the image of astronomical and celestial objects like stars, moon, galaxies, and other planets of the night sky with a camera. Photography of deep-sky objects is not easy for all but if you know how to get an image of these objects; it is possible to even with a smartphone.

Though it is not equal to the DSLR but can offer significantly satisfying photos for astronomers when unable to carry other bulky equipment.

In recent years, phone companies are using technology to substitute the camera with improved features and facilities.

Can you do astrophotography with a phone?

Astrophotography with smartphones has taken the place of the DSLR or mirrorless or any other high-resolution camera. Though, it is possible only for the upgraded phone camera. Either you are an avid astronomer or a new, always observing the sky object with bulky equipment is difficult. On the other hand, a capable smartphone camera could facilitate the photograph of bright stars, constellations, moon, noctilucent clouds, and even the Milky Way. How amazing is that?

You have to know how to get a good photo of the fainter stars, other planets by the implementation of some apps and other accessories. Is it easy? Yes, if you know the tricks required for an amazing photo. Dude, you have an iPhone or Android, it’s time to go outside for astrophotography of celestial objects in the night sky.

Nowadays, many smartphones align with long exposure apps providing an improved quality image of sky objects even in low light conditions. An excellent image of the night sky photograph by a phone camera you capture can represent your talent in social media and community.

Which phone is best for night photography?

People always want the better thing than you have before. Day by day, mobile phones are updated with advanced technology to meet the customers’ needs. Astrophotography is going through the smartphone camera and enlarging the Astro shot for the people who have a fascination with astronomy, even though they have no expensive telescope or DSLR camera. Isn’t it a great start for a novice?

Here, you will get a lot of opportunities to have a good brand phone manufactured with many advanced facilities needed for a better quality image. Among these, iPhone 11 pro, one plus one, Google pixel 4 best for astrophotography.

Google Pixel 4 & Google Pixel 5

The concept of astrophotography in mobile was newly introduced by Google when it launched its flagship model Pixel 4 followed by Pixel 5 in recent years. Pixel phones are the best of the best for astrophotography.

While you are searching for a phone with high resolution for photography of sky objects, Google pixel 4 or 5 will be ideal for you. The phone can provide you astrophotography mode and that is automatic, very easy to use capturing the star trails with long exposure.

Google Pixel 4 or 5 has the latest version app like Google camera mod to get the amazing starfield photos.

iPhone 11 Pro

The best phone for capturing the bright image of stars and the Milky Way is the Apple iPhone 11pro. The latest flagship comes with a special night mode and a better sensor that gives you 9 seconds exposure time. It is combined with triple camera arrays, with optical and digital zoom according to the maximum 2x and 10x.

iPhone 11 pro will be a better option for those who want to purchase a high-quality smartphone for astrophotography. In low light conditions, you will get an amazing photo of a sky object through the smartphone within a few seconds.

Oneplus 8 Pro smartphone

Astronomers need a smartphone capable of regulating ISO, exposure, white balance, and focus needed to flourish the night photography. OnePlus 8 Pro phone camera comes with the standard combination of the hardware and software settings to replace your bulky astronomy device.

The best one of the Oneplus lineup is now Oneplus 8 Pro which offers a quad-camera with 48 MP wide and ultra-wide lens along with a telephoto and a color filter lens. Go for the long exposure with a tripod at night to click some high-quality photos of night sky objects and the Milky Way.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S20 plus is very flexible if you are planning to go outside getting a clear deep sky with light packing. The super-portable phone can provide you with an image of the night sky which is pretty good compared to the DSLR camera.

It’s featuring pro mode with a wide-angle lens to manually control the phone settings, allowing the noise and blur-free photo. You can capture the nighttime sky in low light conditions with a long exposure time of up to 10 seconds.

Huawei P30 Pro

The Huawei P30 Pro is the phone you can get for your astronomy journey when you consider a light and inexpensive rig to photograph the sky night events. It provides you the greatest zoom as 5x optical zoom and the digital zoom 50x. You will get the image of the brighter moon and the Milky Way.

The star trails mode of Huawei p30 pro has the use of a wide-angle lens. When your mobile is steady with a sturdy tripod, you will get the image without blur.

Tricks and stuff need to get a good quality image: you should try these

You want to overcome the limitation of phone cameras, you should apply some devices and effective apps to mimic the DSLR or any reputed camera’s photos. It’s not an easy task when you use a tiny smartphone camera instead of a bulkier camera to capture the deep sky objects in a single frame. You must agree with that, right? So, try the following points.

The adapter: The phone steadiness is a crucial point to capture a bright image of night stars. The adapter helps to hold the smartphone above the eyepiece. It ensures the center of the object in the phone screen and for maintaining focus and exposure the adapter is needed.

When you want a perfect image without the blur of faint stars, you should place the phone camera steadier for stars shot. Orion, Celestron, and many other companies manufacture universal adapters for various smartphones.

Tripod: The tripod is the accessory needed to stabilize the phone and capture the sky object and international space stations. You can pick a small size tripod according to your smartphone. So keep your mobile on a tripod as steadily as possible for stabilizing the phone camera. A long, sturdy full-size tripod offers you a clear star shot with a large number of star trails.

Apps for photographing the stars

Although smartphones are not capable of giving the quality image as the DSLR camera could exactly. But we can overcome the limitation of phone cameras while the smartphone apps do an excellent job. By using the apps, you will get to control some function that relates the quality of the photography of night objects.

Many of these apps maintain the phone camera’s ISO, exposure time and focus, etc. Some apps are photo editing for the storage of raw images you have clicked. Surprisingly, a well standard photo of stars, moon, and nebulas you will capture while these apps are on your smartphone.

The latest and fruitful apps are

  • NightCap Pro(iOS)
  • Camera FV-5(Android)
  • Star Trail Photos Generator(Android)
  • Camera+2(iOS)
  • ProCamX(Android)

For photo editing

  • Snapseed or Lightroom Mobile
  • Practice, practice, and practice

Men couldn’t achieve success in a day, it takes time to get better. So there is nothing to worry about for your first image of the universe, maybe the image will not be worth it. But keep practicing astrophotography and acquire knowledge about all related parts. You must know what aperture, exposure, focus and ISO, and the use of photo apps are.

If you know how to capture an impressive photo of the night sky object, you can do it even with a tiny smartphone. In recent years, phone cameras have a lot of options for post photo processing apps to edit your photo.

How do you capture astrophotography on Android?

Android phone cameras could capture the delicate stars in the deep sky night without any shake or any blur by applying these steps.

  • Go to the place where you will find a night sky and light free to see the clear view of stars, moons, and galaxies. It’s the fundamental issue for better astrophotography.
  • Use a tripod that can hold the camera steadily in a low light sky. A tripod provides you a blurry free image with long exposure.
  • Now you can get through some useful apps Camera FV-5, ProCamera, candy camera to manual control of your phone. These apps allow you to increase the shutter speed, standard ISO, light that makes the image brighter. Turn off the flash mode to capture the actual light of sky night.

When you see the better sky image through the camera then click the shutter button and give it a few times to process noise and shake-free image. Don’t zoom the photo more, it degrades the quality of the image.

Can iPhone 12 or 12 Pro do astrophotography?

iPhone 12 & 12 Pro (Pro Max) is the upgraded version of iPhone 11 with some more advanced apps used for brighter stars capturing. iPhone 12 & 12 Pro has a Night mode app performing better photography of astronomy. You can fix the shutter speed for 3 to 10 seconds to detect the light to see the stars trails in the photos.

An ultra-wide lens is used with the main lens in iPhone 12 pro, though the main lens performs better to photograph. You can capture the night sky object holding in the tripod to avoid the shaking of the phone screen. Overall, it is a good choice for astrophotographers who love the iPhone.

How do you see the moon on my phone?

You can enjoy the full and bright moon while you have a tiny and slim smartphone. Wait for the proper time to see and click the moon image with a cluster of stars. In a golden and blue hour, Use a phone camera app to set the exposure, focus, ISO, and light properly. Without a proper setting, you can not get an outstanding image of sky objects.

It’s just not like seeing the moon with a single eye, much more than observing. When you get the clear moon on the phone screen, take a snap of the moon with other objects.

Final Thoughts

So are you ready now for astrophotography with your lightweight smartphone? Maybe yes. Here, we have researched much more to give a guideline for those who don’t know if it is possible to photograph vague stars with a phone camera. Astrophotography with a smartphone you will enjoy for sure.

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