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Humans have been glancing at the sky for ages with the best telescopes for astrophotography and star gazing. You can’t blame anyone for doing so because the sky is full of amazing things and events. Have you ever seen a traveling comet and other phenomena in the sky? There are few things more beautiful and awe-inspiring than gazing into the sky at night.

As with every intriguing moment, making the experience last would be the next goal. We take pictures with friends and families to preserve the thrilling memories. If the night sky and its hosts also give such a thrill to watch, why not capture it?

You don’t have to be a professional to take images of celestial objects. With knowledge of astrophotography, you can take pictures of your own. But, what is astrophotography, and how do you do it? Don’t worry! We’ll teach you how to do astrophotography in a moment, but first there’s a few things you should know.

What is Astrophotography?

The word astrophotography is a derivative of two words, astronomy and photography. Putting it simply, it is the application of photography in astronomy. Another word for it is astronomical imaging. That means capturing astronomical objects like the moon and star, celestial occurrences, or areas of the sky at night.

Several years ago, astrophotography was all about helping out in scientific studies. In recent times, this practice is not limited to scientists. People now do this as a hobby, and perhaps it’s time you learned to do so too. But we dive into that; let’s look at how much it costs to start astrophotography and the essentials you will need.

How Much Does it Cost to Start Astrophotography?

Astrophotography doesn’t have to be expensive at the basics. Your phone’s camera or a digicam is enough for a start. However, going professional with astronomical imaging is quite costly. The amount for this depends on the type of instrument you wish to use and how clear you want the images to appear.

Considering the type of camera you wish to use, extra lenses, tripod, and subscriptions for software, you would need about five hundred dollars to six thousand dollars to start. Equipment like telescopes for deep space astrophotography typically cost most.

Essentials Needed for Astrophotography

Before you commence astrophotography, you need the following gears:

A Camera

A camera for astrophotography is perhaps the most crucial equipment. You do not have to buy the most expensive camera, but make sure it can do the job. Buy from popular brands such as Nikkon, Canon, Sony, and others.

Regardless of the brand you choose, ensure the camera you pick is compact and lightweight so you won’t be weighed down while taking the picture. Also, ensure the camera is sensitive and able to download images very fast.

Finally, opt for the camera with an auto-timer function. This feature will prevent vibrations that could cause image distortion if you press the shutter button when snapping.

A wide-angle lens

Although your camera has a lens, it isn’t enough to capture images from space. You should purchase a camera the best lenses for astrophotography, typically a fast lens or wide aperture diameter. Even much better is if it has a low focal rating. Why? The lower the focal rating, the wider the angle of view, and the lower the camera’s magnification.

Again, a lower focal rating infers a broader aperture, allowing more light from the sky to reach it. That means more images from the sky would appear on it.

Strong Tripod Stand

You can’t afford your hand to become shaky while capturing images from the sky. Hence, a tripod isn’t even a choice. You want a tripod paired with a ball head for flexibility and proper positioning.

Moreover, the tripod should be stiff and offer maximum stability so that it doesn’t topple while using it. So, ensure the apparatus can conveniently carry the camera you would use. Also, the footings of your tripod must be able to hook firmly to the ground.

Meanwhile, don’t buy a tripod that is too weighty. Finding a convenient spot for this exercise may take a while. The bulk of the tripod may inconvenience you while walking.

Headlamp with Night Vision

Astrophotography takes place at night, which means you will have little or no illumination. Another implication is that it may be difficult for you to set up your equipment without lighting. A headlamp provides the much-needed light for the job while making your hands unoccupied to do other things.

However, the light from the lamp can disturb others around you by getting into their eyes. That is why you must use a lamp with the night vision mode.


An intervalometer usually comes with a camera. But, if your camera doesn’t have you need to get one. An intervalometer, when programmed correctly, will help press your camera’s shutter automatically. With this, you can’t miss any moment in the sky.

Lens heater

Nights will be humid and cold. These two factors are not favorable to your lens. Again, since the lens tilt upwards, the lens is exposed to nighttime condensation. That’s where the lens heater comes to play. The accessory prevents moisture from reaching your lens and accumulating on the camera by gently heating it.

How to Take Beautiful Photos of Space?

Now that you are aware of the cost and essentials needed for astrophotography, then it is time you know how to do astrophotography. That is, how to take beautiful photos of space. To do this is very easy. Just follow the tips below.

Choose an Ideal Time and Location

The best time for astronomical imaging is when the clouds are dark. Dark skies make the process even easier. Try to avoid light pollution as much as possible. Light pollution could come from the moonlight and reflections from surrounding cities. Hence, we advise setting out between midnight and around 1 a.m. You can also take advantage of the darkness that comes before dawn.

Except you are out to capture the moon, nights with a full moon could pose more challenges than when there isn’t any. The reason is that there may be too much illumination in the sky, thereby making other celestial bodies less visible.

Set up Your Camera

The fact is that the most work you have to do for successful image capture in the sky at night is to get your camera settings right. Here is how to get started.

  • Place your camera on a tripod: Place your camera on a tripod and allow it to stay in a fixed position. After this, change the settings of your camera. If your camera is on automatic settings, it won’t do what you want. You must take control by changing the camera’s settings to manual.
  • Set the aperture to a higher value: The wider the aperture, the more light the camera can admit. You would want something between f/2.8 and f/5.6. The assumption in this scenario is that the clouds have poor illumination. If it turns out the reverse, the aperture must be small to prevent the admittance of too much light.
  • Changing the ISO settings of your camera: Although changing the default setting can cause some noise in the picture, it remains the best way to capture as many stars as possible. Don’t worry about the noise in your capture. You can remove the noise from the images using photography software. As a general rule, the darker the area in focus, the higher the ISO you should use.
  • Set your shutter speed: Set your shutter speed considering the focal length of your lens using the 500 rule. The rule helps you decide the shutter speed before the stars begin to trail. According to this tradition, your ideal shutter speed is what you get when you divide 500 by your camera’s focal length. So, if your camera uses a 20mm lens, your shutter speed will be 25 seconds.
  • Set the camera’s focus: Your camera’s auto-configuration wouldn’t suffice in this situation. Get your lens to focus manually and then shoot live.

Take the Shot

After you’ve set your camera right, the next thing to do is take the shot. Take your time and patiently wait till the picture comes into clarity. Do not rush it. Else, you could come up with blurred images.

If you wish to spice things up, you can take a picture aiming at the horizon. That would allow the inclusion of objects in the foreground as well. What that does to the image is that it give it a sense of scale.

Another tip is to take multiple shots of an image. Not every picture would come out as clearly as you wish. Therefore, you can stack them using your photography software to create a sharper and more detailed image.


In the words of Stephen Hawking, “Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.”

Astrophotography is all about the curiosity about what goes on up there. As a reminder, there will be no perfect skies. While some night skies appear better than others, that doesn’t mean you can’t still capture your images. As already stated, try different settings to balance the light exposure.

Most importantly, as with everything in life, you’ll become better as you keep practicing. If you follow the procedures, which we have highlighted in this article, soon, the night wonders of the sky could be yours for the taking.

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