Can you do astrophotography with an iPhone? I wish shooting moons & stars were as easy as turning on the camera and hitting that shutter button. Alas, it’s not! But don’t worry, I have you covered. There are several tips to capture the night sky in all its glory, and one of them is having the right app. Thankfully, there are plenty of helpful iPhone apps for astrophotography, and here are some of the best apps that you must download.
- Stellarium Plus
- Light pollution map – Dark sky
- Dark Sky Weather
- Sky Guid
- NightCap Camera
- Satellite Tracker by Star Walk
1. Stellarium Plus – Best app for planning night photography
The award-winning astronomy app shows an accurate simulation of the night sky, complete with stars and planets. Just point your phone at the sky, and the app will label the constellations, satellites (such as the ISS), and other deep sky objects in real-time.
But what works in your favor, as an astrophotography enthusiast, is that you can also view the night sky simulation for any date, time, and location. This definitely helps them plan upcoming trips & shots they would like to capture.
Imagine knowing exactly where to point your telescope and place your iPhone to capture that rare planet/star sighting.
2. Light pollution map – Dark sky – Astrophotography app to find the right spot
You have done all the research & aligned all the equipment properly, but you can’t get a clear view due to that notorious pollution layer. Think about it, not many of us can claim a clear sky view from our terraces or porches.
This is where the LPM comes in handy; it helps you locate where the sky will not be affected by light pollution; in short, accurately directing you towards the perfect spot for night sky photography or stargazing.
And for all the aurora borealis, aka polar lights fanatics, the app lends you live information like KP value, magnetic field, and more. There’s also a mesmerizing visibility map for the northern and southern hemispheres, with additional timelapse options!!
Price: Free (Pro version for $8.99)
3. Dark Sky Weather – Get the perfect weather for astrophotography
It is obvious that a clear, cloudless sky is essential to enjoy, observe, and photograph the night sky. However, most miss out on the importance of transparency and visibility.
The former refers to the sky’s clarity, aka, the humidity and dust quotient; typically, transparency is best in winter and poor in summer. As for visibility, that refers to the stability of the atmosphere.
The dancing or blurry stars denote the phenomena. Usually, late-night have better visibility while early evenings are the worst. OMG! That’s a whole lot of data to consider, and that’s why in-depth weather apps like Dark Sky are a must-have for astrophotography.
Why I prefer this one? Because it offers hyperlocal weather information and down-to-the-minute forecasts, saving me time, money, and energy while planning the photography trips.
4. Sky Guide – Best app to enhance your astronomy knowledge
In-depth knowledge of the sky can make all the difference. In my personal opinion, the right knowledge about a topic can enhance your performance & productivity. And most importantly, it will continuously fuel the fire of your passion.
Designed for stargazing, Sky Guide uses rich graphics & vital information to educate you about your overhead sky, from constellations, planets, to satellites. Furthermore, with cinematic time controls, you can voyage into the past or the future as per your will.
This also means that you will know the exact location of the moon/stars/planets in the sky and can prep your camera and equipment accordingly. Sky Guide can work with or without GPS, cellular service, or Wi-Fi, which literally works anywhere and everywhere.
5. NightCap Camera – Best app for low-light photography
NightCap is a powerful camera for night-time or low-light photography. It boasts an AI camera control that automatically sets optimum focus and exposure to ensure a brighter, clearer shot.
Additional features like 4K time-lapse, ISO boost, long exposure mode, noise reduction mode, 8x Zoom control, and more, allows you to explore and experiment with your captures.
The best part of the app is its four dedicated astrophotography modes. A Stars Mode that is designed to capture starry sky or Northern/Southern Lights. The Star Trails Mode records the moments of stars as they paint circles in the sky.
And then there are the International Space Station (ISS) & meteors modes, specially crafted to capture the satellites and shooting stars.
6. PhotoPills – Best app for legendary night sky photos
A handy app for any and every photographer, whether Astro, wedding, or landscape photography. It is basically a photo plan manager that helps you discover the Sun, Moon, and Milky Way’s exact location at any given time.
What’s unique is that it employs Augmented Reality to show you the probable scenarios in a few hours. You can use this info to frame the shot beforehand and ensure that moment doesn’t slip from your hand.
The app also has built-in calculators for long exposure, spot stars, star trails, timelapse, hyperfocal table, DoF & FoV. And in addition to upcoming photo plans, the handy widgets also lend information about all the Sun, Moon, and Milky Way events for your location and date.
7. Satellite Tracker by Star Walk – Best ISS and Satellite tracking app
As the name clearly suggests, this app enables you to track human-made satellites, including SpaceX’s Stalinks, communications, and weather forecasting satellites. Along with monitoring the satellite’s exact location, it lends you detailed data about the flyby time & pass predictions.
And all you have to do for this information is to select the satellite from the list. Moreover, you can set a timer until the next flyby and accordingly plan and prep for the shot.
The app also incorporates a Satellite View that shows you a 3D-image of a satellite flying over Earth with real speed and location. In all, this one is a great asset for every satellite aficionado, whether they want to photograph or gaze at them.
Price: Free (In-app purchases starting from $0.49)
How can a compass app help in astrophotography? Well, location is everything; you would want to miss the prime seats for an astronomical event, would you? And what better way to ensure that you are at the right spot and looking in the right direction than a compass.
What’s great about this one is its accuracy and special features like cardinal direction, altitude reading, speedometer, flashlight, latitude/longitude display, temperature reading, voice option, amongst other things.
Price: Free (premium version for $9.99)
Top astrophotography iPhone apps to capture the twinkling night sky
Astrophotography is undoubtedly one of the most typical and patience-testing streams of photography. And if you are a night owl with a special connection with the stars and other celestial bodies, I hope this list could help you explore & master the craft of iPhone Astrophotography.
Do share your experience with these apps in the comment section below. And don’t forget to share your shots with us; feel free to tag iGeeksBlog on your Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook profile.
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