How to take astronomy photos with just your iPhone

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although Iphone Not as powerful as a telescope, it can still take good night sky photos. Here’s how to get started.

NASA revealed a file first pictures Picked up by JWST on July 12, it captured the early universe. It inspired a series of discussions about photography and the equipment needed to take good space photos. Astrophotography is really long exposureAnd that’s something the iPhone can do.

Long exposure photography captures the passage of time in a still image. Long exposure shots darken objects in motion, so stars appear as lines or tracks, clouds extend outward, and water softens.

Keeping the shutter open for long periods of time captures this motion blur. Shutter speed and aperture determine how much light reaches the camera sensor. “Extended periods” may mean anything from 5 to 30 minutes or more, depending on the desired result.

Long exposure to the iPhone

Apple Live Photos released along with iPhone 6s In 2015, which was the first step towards this category. Between a GIF and a video, Live Photo captures activity right before and after the photo is taken. These photos capture motion, which is revealed by long-pressing a still photo in the Photos app.

with iOS 11 Live Photos received some editing options for “Loop”, “Bounce” and “Long Exposure”. The Long Exposure option uses algorithms to mimic long exposure photography.

iPhone didn’t even start enabling true long exposure photography iPhone 11. Introduced with this model, Night Mode takes brighter photos in low-light environments, enhancing clarity while reducing noise.

Night mode turns on automatically when the iPhone detects a low light environment. Then, the iPhone quickly takes a photo, or a photo that lasts for a few seconds, depending on how dark it is. Users can configure the capture time manually.

This is the least expensive setup for taking photos of the night sky with the iPhone, although it’s not available on all models. iPhones that support Night Mode include:

  • iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max

Taking good satellite photos requires equipment to keep your iPhone stable as well as photo-taking software. Night mode is one such option built into the system, but there are plenty of third-party apps for long exposure photography.

The quality of satellite images depends on the equipment. For mobile astrophotography, the best results occur with telescopes designed to work with smartphones. Using a tripod is an affordable and more accessible option.

Astrophotography equipment for iPhone

An iPhone on a tripod with a Night Mode app will not take pictures of cosmic cliffs or even planets in the local solar system. However, the equipment included here will improve the basic images of the moon and ensure that stars appear in the night images.


GorillaPod is the most popular brand of smartphone mounts. From JOBY, the legs of these racks consist of ball joints for flexibility. Each leg can be bent into nearly any position to keep the iPhone secure by wrapping it around objects or resting it on the floor.

In 2021, we reviewed A line of GorillaPods designed to work with MagSafe iPhone models. These mounts are affordable enough for most budgets, receiving a score of 4 out of 5 stars.

GorillaPod Starter Kit by JOBY

GorillaPod Starter Kit by JOBY

The GorillaPod Starter Kit is an excellent choice. It includes a universal clip to support smartphones of different brands and various mounts for GoPro and other compact cameras. It is available for purchase for $32.95 It is often found for sale.

Sandmark Tripod

Sandmarc is a brand that makes high quality imaging accessories for iPhone and other devices. Its tripod has two versions: the compact version and the professional version. The compact version is lightweight, easy to assemble and aimed at travelers. The Pro version is a full size tripod with a longer extension.

Sandmarc Compact Edition Tripod Stand for iPhone

Sandmarc Compact Edition Tripod Stand for iPhone

Each tripod is made of aluminum, and the package includes a ball mount and a stand for the iPhone. The Compact Edition Available for $99.99 and Pro version It is $199.99.

Pick Design Mobile Tripod

Peak Design features a stand that’s smaller than the Sandmark Compact Edition. This mini tripod is up to half a centimeter thick, which makes this product ideal for pockets. It is compatible with MagSafe and turns on and off in vertical and horizontal configurations.

Tripod for iPhone from Bic Design

Tripod for iPhone from Bic Design

The aluminum legs have anti-slip capabilities with feet that can reduce vibration. In addition, the small ballhead holder adjusts the angle of the iPhone to capture multiple views of the night sky. Peak Design’s iPhone Tripod It’s $79.95.

iPhone photography apps

Pictures of the night sky can be captured using Night Mode and a tripod. However, there are plenty of third-party apps out there as well.


Halide is one of the most popular camera apps on the App Store. It offers all the manual controls a photographer could need, such as adjusting exposure, ISO, shutter speed, and white balance. Includes support for RAW (DNG RAW), TIFF, HEIC and JPG image formats.

Screenshots from Halide camera app for iPhone

Screenshots from Halide camera app for iPhone

The app takes full advantage of iOS features like Deep Fusion and Smart HDR. halide Free of charge To download with a subscription.

Camera + 2

Camera + 2 offers RAW shooting and editing, integration with Apple Photos, Magic ML photo editing, smile mode, stabilizer, capture presets, and more.

Screenshots from the Camera + app for iPhone

Screenshots from the Camera + app for iPhone

The powerful manual mode provides the controls photographers expect, such as exposure, ISO, shutter time, and white balance. Camera + 2 Free of charge To purchase an optional subscription.

Star Walk 2

Star Walk 2 achieves the “astronomical” part of astrophotography. It is an astronomy app that maps stars, comets, galaxies, planets, constellations, and satellites. It uses iPhone and GPS sensors to precisely set the position of each object.

Screenshot of Star Walk 2 for iPhone

Screenshot of Star Walk 2 for iPhone

Using the most powerful feature of the app, the iPhone owner can point their device at the night sky in live camera mode and see precisely what major celestial bodies are located. Star Walk 2 is available for purchase for $2.99.

Tips for Astrophotography on iPhone

These apps and equipment can help with iPhone night photography with its release and stabilization controls. Additionally, there are a few additional things to consider.

“Normal” photos taken with an iPhone use the JPEG format. It is a universal format supported by almost every camera and operating system. It uses a compression algorithm to save space by reducing the image file size at the expense of image quality. The JPEG format is known as the “missing” image.

Next is HEIF/HEIC. Apple adopted the High Efficiency File Format in iOS 11. Reducing the file size is a strength of this format, as HEIC files are even smaller than JPEGs.

Professional photographers use the RAW image format. The raw image file contains all or most of the data captured by the camera. It is a lossless, uncompressed format that needs editing before printing or sharing.

Apple introduced its own version of this format in iOS 14.3, it’s called ProRAW. ProRAW takes full advantage of the cameras in iPhone 12 Pro and later. ProRAW provides unprocessed image data and Apple’s computational editing algorithms to enhance images in a similar way to a photo JPEG or HEIC.

RAW format is best for shooting low-light environments such as the night sky. Image details, such as shadows, can be “restored” more easily than a lost image. Found on iPhone 12 Pro or later in the camera settings under Formats.

Zoom is another aspect of photography that can affect image quality. iPhone supports two types of zoom: optical and digital.

Photo by Matthew Ansley on Unsplash

Photo by Matthew Ansley on Unsplash

The optical zoom, which was introduced in Apple products with the iPhone 7 Plus, uses a telephoto lens to capture more of the camera’s live feed. For example, the iPhone 13 Pro camera app displays three numbers on the screen: 0.5x, 1x, and 3x.

The 0.5x setting uses the Ultra HD camera to “zoom in” into the image to capture as much of the screen as possible. The 1x setting uses the default wide camera to capture average sizes in photos. Finally, even the 3x option uses the telephoto lens that is actually longer than the wide lens, bringing it closer to the subject.

Tap the screen to zoom in or out after the camera’s maximum optical zoom activates the digital zoom. iPhone 13 Pro supports a maximum digital zoom of 15x. Digital zoom starts after 3x using the multi-touch gesture to “post” the camera feed. Start with two fingers closely touching the screen, and move them apart.

Digital Zoom Crops and enlarges the image on the screen. It sacrifices image quality because the viewfinder doesn’t actually move close to the subject, so optical zoom is preferred for best quality. The Pro, Plus, and Max models of the iPhone have telephoto lenses for optical zoom.

For iPhone advanced astrophotography, there are plenty of iPhone-compatible telescopes, which are beyond the scope of this article. Telescopes are more expensive than the iPhone tripod, but they provide greater magnification than the iPhone’s telephoto lens.

Optical zoom is the differentiation factor. These telescopes do not connect to iOS or iPhone camera, they provide a mount to take a picture of the telescope viewfinder.

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