ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Arts and Design»
  • Photography

Photographing Celestial Bodies

Updated on June 26, 2013

Astrophotography is a very specialized photographic genre in which the photographer takes images of stars (not the Hollywood kind), planets, comets, the Moon, Sun and any other celestial event.

This field of photography mainly works with scientific publications and governmental agencies. Educational publications also enlist the aid of astro photographers but a large portion of this type of photography can be found in the archives of photographic stock houses.

It is specialized because it requires the use of very specialized equipment such as camera lens to telescope adapters, mostly can be done at night and some celestial events are rare in their occurrence. Very few astro photographers make their living by only shooting celestial bodies, most have a second specialty. After all how many photos of the Moon can you take?

But do not limit yourself to planets and stars. The Northern Lights show up really well in photographs too.

A large number of astro photographers also do so for purely aesthetic purposes, in other words for purely personal reasons. They use a S.L.R or D.S.L.R camera and one main type of lens, usually a standard 50mm to 55mm or wide angle. What differs from photographer to photographer is the telescope used for this type of photography.

Most if not all, astro photographers use filters because some light wavelengths are not clearly visible to the human eye, they also shoot with long exposure times since film and digital sensors have cumulative properties and capture light photons in summation.

Two main problems that astro photographers encounter is the light "pollution" often found in big cities caused by street lighting, so they must often seek rural spots where this "pollution" will not affect their photos. They must also take into account the rotation of the Earth and use equipment that will automatically rotate the telescope to compensate for this rotation.

Astrophotography has also branched into smaller subdivisions such as star photography, novae photography, stellar classification and photometry.

If you are starting this type of photography or just want to give it a try, use a S.L.R or D.S.L.R camera that allows for long exposure times, you have to focus on infinity, mount the camera set up on a sturdy tripod, attach the telescope ( you might need some support for it ,although most sturdy tripods will hold both camera and telescope set up). You will also need to use the widest f-stop (aperture) that your camera permits. You should try to use a film of at leas a 400 ISO rating, or higher, this allows you to cut the exposure times. Do remember that the higher the ISO the more grain in the film and the more grain in the images. You should also have a shutter release cable to minimize movement. You can make your own see DIY for instructions.

If you want to try this type of photography before deciding if it is something you would like to pursue further, then an S.L.R or D.S.L.R camera, a standard 50mm or 55mm lens, tripod and a shutter release cable are the only things you need. You will be able to record the stars' movements, photograph the Moon and a few other celestial events, anything else and then you will need a telescope. Set the camera to its fullest f stop opening and use a long shutter speed. Remember to manually focus on infinity.

Note: as with all low light photos, you may encounter "noise" in the images, you should have a photo editing program to re-size or reduce noise.



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks for answering my question Luis.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      ktrapp: It's all due to the magnification factor. To make it look bigger you need to zoom in on magnify it

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 6 years ago from Illinois

      There are times when the moon looks so huge and so low that it seems very nearby. Whenever I have taken a picture of the moon when it is like this (with a typical $100 digital camera) it only looks like a small spec in the photograph. Why is that? I never understand why my photo doesn't depict what I see.

    • d.william profile image

      d.william 7 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Awesome article. I am just beginning to take photos, as i never had the time before. I love cloud formations, flowers/plants and animal pictures.

    • Ken Barton profile image

      Ken Barton 7 years ago

      Awesome Hub, I love star gazing, but do not have the means to photograph the stars. I love watching for shooting stars and looking for satellites flying over. In the old days, my Dad would just point up and say there it is, and you'd look up and see a satellite going over. I don't think they light them up like they use too because otherwise the sky would be filled with thousands of orbiting lights.

    • Radioguy profile image

      Radioguy 7 years ago from Maine

      Very interesting and very well done, also, neat photos!

    • Cogerson profile image

      UltimateMovieRankings 7 years ago from Virginia

      Awesome tips...I have bookmarked this page for the next star show/eclipse that comes...voted up


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)