Astrophotography can be extremely rewarding, even when you’re a newbie. With the right tools and a good eye for photography, you can end up taking amazing pictures of the sky, the moon, the planets, and the stars. Sure, you will also require top-quality technology, including an excellent telescope.
But if you’re willing to invest in a great 90mm telescope you can make sure you will not only enjoy wonderful and close-up images of the sky, but you will also be able to turn what you see in digital photographies you will further share with your loved ones.
Luckily, you won’t have to invest a fortune in a professional camera too to be able to take clear shots of the surrounding galaxies or the moon. Modern technology has equipped our smartphones with mini digital powerful cameras, so by just acquiring a few accessories, you can use your phone camera to take direct pictures of the sky.
The method is called afocal photography because you basically place the phone’s camera on the telescope’s objective lens and you will see through your phone screen the image your eyes would see if you were using the telescope on your own. So here are some great tips if you want to try this shooting method.
What is afocal photography?
Without trying to hurt anyone’s feelings, afocal photography is just a fancy name for those who want to put the camera right on the telescope’s lens and shoot the moon without any other additional equipment. You can use digital cameras and DSLR cameras for qualitative images, or you can simply use your phone camera and hope for the best.
The method is good if you want to photograph the moon or the planets. If you’re new in the field, we would suggest starting with the Earth’s natural satellite, the moon, because it is easy to spot and very bright, so you won’t require too many photographing skills or high-tech equipment. In addition, photographing the moon will only require exposures similar to the ones you use during daytime, so it’s great if you want to experiment more with your phone and telescope.
Choosing the right telescope
Before learning how to take good pictures using your phone, you will definitely require a decent telescope. An awesome telescope with GPS is even better because it also offers you a stars map, so you can easily identify all planets, constellations, stars, and other celestial objects that could spark your interest. GPS telescopes are easy to use and will guide you through everything you need to know about finding the star and its position.
Choosing the right phone camera
It goes without saying that a digital camera would be ten times better than a phone camera when taking pictures of the sky. Nevertheless, if you do opt for a mobile phone, we suggest picking one of the latest generation with powerful rear cameras of at least 12MP. Some phones also come equipped with Carl Zeiss lenses which are better and clearer than regular lenses.
Keep in mind that the better the camera, the better pictures you will take. However, you should avoid using the digital zoom on your camera to take closer pictures of the sky. Although this may sound tempting, the digital zoom will actually diminish the quality of your pictures, making them look blurrier. You may end up with low-quality pics even if they are taken with a high-performance phone camera.
We suggest starting with lower magnification photos of the moon and only after you have mastered them you could consider increasing the magnification and try closer pictures.
How to use your phone camera and a telescope together
In order to take really good pictures of the moon and the sky, you will only really need your phone camera and a good telescope. However, it can be tough taking positioning your phone camera on your telescope’s lens manually, so we do suggest buying a fitting clam. You can get this device for a really good price online, and the good thing is that they’re universal, meaning they will fit each type of smartphone and telescope.
Take as many pictures as you can in order to learn how to focus right and obtain qualitative images. You can also buy additional magnifying lenses for your phone. These are small objectives similar to the ones used for digital cameras with the only difference that the first attach directly to the back of your phone, on your rear camera. This is a great tip if you want better and clearer pics with increased resolution and light accuracy.
Other things to take into account
We suggest buying a tripod for your telescope as well to easily mount it anywhere you like. Although you have the option of choosing a hand telescope that is cheaper, it will be virtually impossible for you to hold the telescope with one hand and place the phone on your lens with the other in order to take pics with your phone. A tripod is a great investment for the future as well because it allows increased mobility and portability for your item.
This way, you can enjoy stargazing from the top of your building or from the backyard of your home. If you live in cities with low pollution, you can even mount the telescope in your room and take photos from the window.