Night sky photography is a fun and rewarding form of photography that can help you explore the many galaxies, stars and celestial features of the night sky. 

Though seemingly simple at first, night sky photography requires a basic understanding of the various types of night sky photography, the equipment needed and the techniques involved. With a bit of knowledge, patience and practice, you can create stunning images of the night sky.

Types of Night Sky Photography 

Night sky photography can be divided into three primary categories: astrophotography, star trails and timelapses.

Astrophotography is a type of photography used to capture images of astronomical objects such as stars, planets, nebulae, galaxies, and comets in great detail. To achieve this, you need to take a long-exposure photograph of the night sky and use other tools to capture more detail therein. Astrophotography tends to require specialized equipment such as tracking mounts, telescope mounts, filters and tracking software.

Star Trails
Star trails photography involves taking a number of sequential photographs that are then combined to create a “star trails” effect in the final image. This can be accomplished by leaving the shutter open for a long period of time and tracking the movement of the stars so they appear as trails.

Time-lapse photography is a technique used to capture the changes in the night sky over a period of time in a sequence of frames. These frames are then played back as a movie and can be sped up, slowed down or even reversed. To achieve time-lapse photography, you need to precisely control the interval at which the photos are captured, as well as their exposure time.

Equipment Needed for Night Sky Photography
When it comes to night sky photography, the type of equipment required can vary depending on the type of photography you intend to do. Common equipment used for night sky photography includes:

• Camera: A digital camera with a manual mode and a Bulb setting that allows you to keep the shutter open for extended periods of time.

• Tripod: A tripod is essential as it allows you to take long-exposure shots without introducing any motion blur.

• Wide lens: A wide-angle lens is essential to capture more of the night sky in a single shot.

• Filters: Neutral density, light pollution and other filters are used to cut out distractions in the sky and create more detailed shots.

• Other: Depending on the type of photography you plan on doing, you may also need additional items such as tracking mounts, telescope mounts and tracking software.

Techniques for Night Sky Photography

Once you have your equipment setup and you’re ready to shoot, there are a few techniques you need to know to get the best night sky images possible.

High ISO
The first and most important technique is to set your camera to a high ISO setting. This allows you to shoot in low-light conditions but also increases the risk of introducing noise and image grain. As a result, it’s important to take multiple shots and pick the best one.

Manual Focus
When taking night sky photos, it’s important to use manual focus to ensure your desired objects in the night sky are in sharp focus. It’s also important to use other tools such as a focusing rail to help achieve this.

Sequence Shots
It’s also important to take multiple shots in sequence to ensure you get the best possible image. This is especially true when shooting star trails or time-lapses as it’s essential to capture a consistent number of frames throughout the entire sequence.

Once you’ve taken your photo, it’s important to do some post-processing work in order to get the most out of your image. This includes making some basic adjustments to color and contrast, as well as adding some sharpness or noise reduction if necessary.

Night sky photography can be an exciting and rewarding form of photography to pursue. By understanding the various types of night sky photography and the techniques and equipment needed, you can create stunning images of the night sky. With a bit of knowledge, patience and practice, you’ll be able to capture stunning images of the stars and other celestial wonders.