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Digiscoping: Photos of the Moon with an iPhone

Updated on June 30, 2015
Meade Telescope
Meade Telescope

Have you every wanted to take spectacular pictures of objects far away, such as wildlife or even the moon? One option is to spend thousands of dollars on a powerful camera and lens, but that can be too expensive for a lot of people. Is there another option? As it turns out there is, and it is known as Digiscoping.

What is Digiscoping?

Digiscoping is the hobby of using a digital camera to take pictures through a telescope. Often it is a fixed lens, point and click camera that is used along with a birdwatcher’s spotting scope to create the digiscoping system, but there are many other combination options. The method was accidentally discovered by Laurence Poh in 1999, and the term "digiscoping" was coined shortly after [1].

How I got involved with digiscoping

I came across a telescope one day while thrift shopping. It was a little beat up, but overall looked to be in great condition. The best part was the store was selling it for only $20! Even with my limited knowledge of telescopes, my intuition was saying I couldn't pass on this deal.

I was excited to get back home to try out my new found toy. The first order of business was obviously to look at the moon, and I was astonished at how well my $20 telescope worked! I could see so much detail on it's surface. It was astonishing to see all of the craters and crevices with my own eyes. I took out my iPhone, and put it up to the eyepiece to see what I could see. It took a little maneuvering to get the iPhone lined up just right, but I was eventually able to get it focused.

The photos

Almost more astonishing than the view through the telescope, was how well the pictures I took my iPhone turned out! All I had to do was make sure it was perfectly lined up and keep a steady hand. Don't just take my word for it though, judge for yourself! Here are a couple photos I have taken since I started.

More tools for digiscoping

My early success at digiscoping got me hooked. I started looking into different sized eyepieces, and what it would take to get higher magnification. I also researched more tips and tricks associated with digiscoping and telescopes in general. I listed a couple items of interest below:

As I mentioned earlier, it wasn't the easiest to line up the iPhone in the eyepiece. The Carson HookUpz is the answer to that problem. It does more than just help line up your camera in your eyepiece though. It also makes it possible to take pictures during the daytime. Since it was dark outside I was able to use my iPhone without any adaptor device connecting it to the telescopes eyepiece. I wouldn’t be able to do that if it was light outside though, because all light needs to be sealed off at the junction between your camera and the eyepiece. Otherwise the camera picks up the reflection of light off of your eyepiece lens. This adaptor creates a snug fit between your eyepiece and you phones camera lens.

This piece of black polymer is used to view the sun! Yes I said it; the sun. By covering the end of your telescope with this sheet you are able to take a closer look at the sun. Fair warning though, you may have to get creative with how you attach the black sheet on to your telescope or binoculars.

Clearly you won't need an app to help you find the moon, but there is so much more out there to see! This app will help you to find other gems like Jupiter or Saturn. It will also help you decipher what other celestial bodies and constellations you are seeing when you look up in the night sky.

Get out there!

I hope this article gets you excited to get out there and try digiscoping! Its a fun hobby, and its relatively cheap to get started. You may even have most of the supplies already. So get out there and start taking photos of the moon!


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