Top tips for astrophotography composition 2023


Key Points:

• Get the key bits of kit — a camera that performs well in low light, a suitable lens and a sturdy tripod
• Get to know the best time (of year/night) to shoot your desired subject
• Find a suitably dark location with an interesting foreground
• Monitor stargazing, aurora, light pollution and weather apps for the best shooting conditions
• Familiarize yourself with the best camera settings before you head out on a shoot
• Experiment and break the rules
• Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get the perfect shot first time — it takes practice

Taking photographs of the night sky can be such a rewarding yet emotional experience, and due to the challenging dark, usually cold and unpredictable conditions, it takes practice and patience to get the shots you want. In this guide, we will look at the key tips to compose the best astrophotographs possible and what you need to know before taking your camera out under a canopy of stars. 

The night sky is ever-changing. Over the period of our lifetimes, light pollution has risen dramatically, and more of us are losing close connections to the heavens above. With the stark rise of satellite technology, it is estimated that by the year 2025, there will be more satellites visible than stars in our view of the night sky. Now more than ever, it is so important to look up to the stars and recognize our sense of place within the universe and capture these moments the best we can. From shooting the Milky Way to the dream-like Northern Lights, this guide has you covered.

Gear choice and framing

Ashton Windmill in the UK, with a circular star trail in the background

Windmills are the perfect foreground for capturing star trail rotations — this is Ashton Windmill, Somerset, UK. (Image credit: Josh Dury)

You don’t need ‘all the gear’ to create stunning astro shots; you can get stunning results from your camera phone with practice. However, if you want to use a ‘proper camera’ you will need one that performs well in low light, or even better, one of the best cameras for astrophotography. Currently, we’d recommend the Nikon Z8 as the best camera overall and best camera for astrophotography because of its phenomenal features, highly detailed sensor and fantastic ability to manage high ISO noise that comes with shooting the dim starlight at night.

Best tripod for astro

Benro Mach3 TMA37C

(Image credit: Benro)

We’ve named the Benro Mach3 TMA37C as the best tripod for astrophotography overall because of its intuitive operation and sturdy leg locks for stability and steadiness.


The Google Camera app has been renamed and features a new UI


The Google Camera app is available to Pixel devices only which makes the Google Camera name a misnomer. So according to 9to5Google, the app has been renamed Pixel Camera in the Google Play Store. Google also updated the copy of the app’s listing in app storefront.
Previously, Google wrote, “Never miss a moment with Google Camera, and take fantastic pictures and videos using features such as Portrait, Night Sight, and the video stabilization modes.” That sentence  now reads, “Never miss a moment with the fully redesigned Pixel Camera, and take fantastic photos and videos using features like Portrait, Night Sight, Time Lapse, and Cinematic Blur.” The latest version of Pixel Camera works on Pixel devices running Android 14.
The Play Store listing highlights some Pixel Camera features such as Real Tone, Night Sight, Pro-controls and Hi-Res 50MP, Astrophotography, Portrait mode, Macro Focus video, and cinematic blur. The new features available with the re-named Pixel Camera app are:
  • New Camera UI that makes it easier to navigate through all the different photo and video modes
  • RAW improvements that enhance the editing workflow
  • Pro Controls unlock advanced camera settings like shutter speed, ISO, and more (on Pixel 8 Pro only)
  • High Res 50MP Photography for richer detail (on Pixel 8 Pro only)
  • General bug fixes and improvements

Google introduced the new Pixel Camera name during Google I/O in May. Other Pixel branded apps include Pixel Call Assist, Pixel Speech (Recorder), and Pixel Safe which includes the VPN, Car Crash Detection, and other features.

We told you about the new UI last month. One big change removes the Video option from the carousel near the bottom of the screen and instead, there are two buttons at the bottom of the screen with one showing a camera icon and the other showing a video camera icon. You will press the appropriate button before using the camera on your Pixel device.


Save up to $101 on a Celestron x PopSci telescope with this post-eclipse sale at Amazon


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We had a great time checking out the Oct. 14 solar eclipse, but the next one that’s visible here in the U.S. won’t be until April 2024. Lots of interesting things will be happening in the sky between then and now, and you’ll need a good telescope to check them out. Right now, Amazon has substantial discounts on Celestron x PopSci telescopes that were already a solid value. There are three different options currently available depending on your star-gazing needs. Then, when the next eclipse rolls around, you can buy a dedicated solar eclipse filter and get a better look than all those jealous people with their (still pretty cool) pinhole cameras.

This is the biggest and most powerful scope in the Celestron x PopSci lineup, and it’s just over $100 off right now. Its five-inch aperture and high-end coatings provide a clear, low-aberration image of the night sky. More importantly, it’s compatible with the Celestron app, which can help you find cool things going on in the sky above you and then help you locate them with your scope so you don’t have to go blindly hunting around the heavens. That’s especially important with a scope this powerful.

This 100mm refractor provides a very solid field of view for astrophotography. It’s light and easy to move around, and it’s compatible again with Celestron’s app to guide you around the night sky. Plus, the integrated hood helps combat errant light from hitting the front element of the scope and causing image-ruining glare.

This model is meant specifically for beginners, and the price makes it very appealing with this discount. The short tub provides a relatively loose view of celestial objects, so beginners won’t get frustrated trying to find specific areas. Plus, the short tube design keeps it small and light, so this is a great scope to keep as a backup for quick jaunts out into dark sky country without lots of gear.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Popular Science has teamed up with Celestron on a line of products. We do earn a commission on its sales—all of which helps power Popular Science.


Prime Day camera deal still live: Save $500 on one of the best mirrorless cameras — Nikon Z7 II now $2496.95


If you’re an astrophotographer looking for a great deal on one of the best cameras this Prime Day, then you’re in luck, as Amazon has slashed a whopping $500 off the price of the Nikon Z7 II — making it now just $2496.95. That’s a 17% saving which, doesn’t sound like a huge amount, but $500 is actually quite a big saving, especially for a camera of this caliber.

When we reviewed the Nikon Z7 II last year, we found that it was especially adept at astrophotography and low-light shooting, but is overall outstanding at every style of photography. It has an incredibly wide ISO range from 64-25,600 which jumps to 32-102,400 when expanded.


Ending soon: Snap up the Canon EOS R8 while it’s $340 off on the Prime Day


This Prime Day, you can snap up the Canon EOS R8 camera with a massive $340 discount. The discount means it is comfortably the lowest price we’ve ever seen it on Amazon and we like that a lot as the camera features in our best cameras for astrophotography guide. 

Save an enormous $340 (technically $339.80) and get Amazon’s lowest-ever price on the Canon EOS R8 full-frame mirrorless camera


What are different types of clouds and how do they form?


Clouds are such a regular part of daily life in most places on the planet that it’s quite easy to forget about them — unless they’re about to rain on you or ruin your perfectly planned astrophotography shot!

But clouds are crucially linked to temperature regulation on Earth, reflecting some of the sun’s energy to keep us cool and trapping some to keep us warm, according to NASA.


Kaikōura children look to the stars with new telescope


Tamzin Godfrey, 10, of Kaikōura, has been learning astrophotography.


Tamzin Godfrey, 10, of Kaikōura, has been learning astrophotography.

Kaikōura school children are capturing images of the cosmos, as the community plans for dark sky sanctuary status.

A new group, Kaikōura Astronomers, has been introducing the local community to astrophotography thanks to community support.

Established as an offshoot of the Kaikōura Dark Skies Trust, which is lobbying for dark sky sanctuary status, the group has been gifted a new telescope.

Volunteer Brian Horsfall said the telescope was popular with local school children.

‘‘We plan to make this telescope available to the community in Kaikoura by having stargazing sessions and school visits.’’

The telescope – a Unistellar eVscope 2 used for astrophotography – worked by capturing the light of distant objects in space and converting the data to an image on a tablet or computer.

A tablet or cellphone operated the telescope using wifi, by sending the co-ordinates of the object you want to photograph.

Kaikōura Astronomers was established to promote astronomy in the community, while the Kaikōura Dark Skies Trusts worked on its application to the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) for dark sky sanctuary status.

Destination Kaikōura, a collaboration between the Kaikōura District Council and local tourism operators, gifted the telescope, while the Kaikōura Lions donated some tablets.

Te Kura o Hāpuku, north of Kaikōura, also supported the initiative by allowing the group to hold open nights on its school grounds.

Horsfall said the students were no strangers to using technology in their learning. Hāpuku students used the internet to capture their own image of Matariki via a telescope in New Mexico, United States.

An image of Matariki taken at Te Kura o Hāpuku, near Kaikōura, taken by Tamzin Godfrey.


An image of Matariki taken at Te Kura o Hāpuku, near Kaikōura, taken by Tamzin Godfrey.

‘‘They selected the telescope, programmed the schedular, and downloaded the resulting image,’’ he said.

‘‘Being in a small school does not limit their interests or abilities and access to the new telescope will encourage their learning.’’

Kaikōura District Council chief executive Will Doughty said the trust hoped to get its dark sky sanctuary application into the IDA by the end of the year.

The council was also helping the trust to prepare a plan change to the Kaikōura District Plan to meet the IDA’s requirements.

‘‘They are keen to run the draft by us to make sure they have everything covered.’’


Kaikōura is doing everything they can to protect the Hutton’s shearwater. (First published April 2022)

The plan change will look to adapt the town’s lighting rules and introduce other protections needed to improve Kaikoura’s view of the heavens.

The trust has engaged Kahu Environmental to assist with the private plan change, while funding has come from the council’s discretionary grant and the Government’s Better Off fund.

The process began when Doughty was a manager for the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) alliance, during the earthquake recovery.

Since then, Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency and the council have been installing LED lights, which saved money as well as having environmental benefits, he said.

‘‘There is a lot more work which has been done by the trust since then, but it will be nice to see it through to a successful outcome.’’


Starmus announces Jean-Michel Jarre and The Offspring as new star signings for Starmus VII


  • Jean-Michel Jarre, The Offspring to headline the Starmus festival in Bratislava, Slovakia from 12-17 May 2024
  • Tony Hadley to appear as a special guest
  • New keynote speakers added, including Chris Hatfield, Robin Ince, Gary Marcus, Neil Lawrence, Phillip Torr, Roeland Nusselder, Svitlana Krakovska and Dr. Sylvia Earle

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia, Oct. 11, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Jean-Michel Jarre and The Offspring will headline the seventh edition of the Starmus Festival – focused on the future of our home planet. They will be joined by Tony Hadley, former lead singer of the British pop icon from the 80s Spandau Ballet. Brainchild of Garik Israelian and Queen guitarist Sir Brian May, the festival of science communication will be brought to global audiences thanks to a partnership with cybersecurity giant ESET on  12-17 May 2024 in Bratislava, Slovakia. The event promises to deliver an extraordinary lineup of world-class speakers, discussions and music performances. Throughout the multi-day event, festival goers will have the opportunity to enjoy numerous talks, delving into diverse topics such as astrophysics, computer science, neuroscience, microbiology, and biochemistry. 

New keynote speakers announced
The astronaut and engineer Chris Hadfield, the scientist and leading voice in AI Gary Marcus; the Cambridge DeepMind Professor of Machine Learning Neil Lawrence; the SLAM Oxford Professor Philip Torr; the computer scientist and co-founder and CEO of Plumerai Roeland Nusselder; the popular British multi-talented comedian, broadcaster and author Robin Ince; the Ukranian climate scientist Svitlana Krakovska and the legendary oceanographer and chairman of Mission Blue/Sylvia Earle Alliance Dr. Sylvia Earle are the latest talents joining Starmus VII unique panel of speakers (access full list here).                                                                                                                                                      

A stellar faculty for the School of Astrophotography
The Astrophotography School, organised by former senior editor of Astronomy Magazine, Michael E. Bakich, is a traditional side-event of the Starmus festival. Led by three of the world’s best astroimagers: Damian A. Peach, Chris Schur and Martin Ratcliffe, 2024 edition will offer a unique occasion for astrophotography enthusiasts to take pictures of celestial objects and enjoy a once in a lifetime experience.  

At its core, the Starmus festival embodies ESET’s unwavering dedication to safeguarding the progress that technology enables. With over 30 years of experience in cyber-threats and digital security, ESET has firmly established itself as a research-first company. At home, ESET demonstrates its dedication to science through the ESET Science Award, an annual celebration that recognizes outstanding achievements in Slovak science. Joining forces with the Starmus Festival therefore represents the company’s natural ambition to promote the power of science among local and global audiences.

“We are thrilled to partner with Starmus, a celebration where science and music harmonize to inspire innovation and curiosity. ESET stands at the intersection of research and security, working to joining them and ensure that the digital landscape remains both trustworthy and protected,” said Richard Marko, CEO at ESET. “In our ever-evolving digital landscape, it is crucial to not only protect technology but also to foster a deep appreciation for the scientific achievements that drive progress. This festival serves as a platform to celebrate these accomplishments and inspire future leaders in both fields.”

Garik Israelian, astrophysicist and Starmus founding director, explained, “Science is a pathway to curiosity, a bridge to understanding, and a beacon of endless possibilities. Embracing science means embracing the future—it nurtures critical thinking and fuels innovation. In a rapidly evolving world, scientific knowledge empowers us to make informed decisions, question the unknown, and shape a brighter tomorrow. With the Starmus Festival, we aim to inspire people to explore, discover, and believe in the extraordinary potential that lies within the realms of science.”

About ESET
For more than three decades, ESET® has been providing innovative, state-of-the-art digital security for millions of businesses, consumers, and critical infrastructure. A proven pioneer in heuristics detection, machine learning and AI algorithms, ESET offers unmatched prevention-first cybersecurity solutions powered by renowned global Threat Intelligence, and an extensive R&D network led by industry-acclaimed researchers.

To stay ahead of emerging cyber threats, ESET’s high-performing, easy-to-use solutions unobtrusively protect and monitor 24/7 not just to stop attacks in their tracks, but to prevent them from happening in the first place. For more information, visit or follow us on LinkedIn, X, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. 

About Starmus

Since the very first homo sapiens looked up at a star-filled sky, we have been awestruck by the vastness of the cosmos. Even today, we remain humbled by the sheer immensity of space, especially as progress in physics and astronomy has made us aware of the tremendous distances involved – even to our closest neighboring stars.

Created by Garik Israelian PhD, astrophysicist at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC) and Sir Brian May PhD, astrophysicist and the lead guitarist of the iconic rock band Queen, Starmus is a festival of science, art and music that has featured presentations from astronauts, cosmonauts, Nobel Prize winners and prominent figures from various scientific disciplines and musical backgrounds. Starmus brings Nobel laureates, eminent researchers, astronauts, thinkers and artists together to share their knowledge and experiences, as we search for answers to the great questions.

Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication Stephen Hawking and Alexei Leonov, together with Brian May, worked to create the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication in 2015, awarded to individuals and teams who have made significant contributions to science communication. Previous Stephen Hawking Medal winners include Dr. Jane Goodall, Elon Musk, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Eno, Hans Zimmer, and the Apollo 11 documentary. 



Las Oriónidas de 2023 – Cielos Boreales


Las estrellas fugaces de las Oriónidas no son las más espectaculares del año pero si que son de las más interesantes del otoño, una época que resulta complicada para la observación astronómica por la frecuente presencia de nubes pero que cuando nos ofrece un cielo despejado es realmente interesante de observar. Comienzan a asomar las constelaciones invernales y las noches, algo más frías pero también más transparentes, nos desvelan hermosas bellezas celestes. Al final de este artículo te hablaremos de ellas.

Pero antes hablemos de la lluvia de estrellas Oriónidas. Es una lluvia de meteoros de actividad moderada. Estos meteoros tienen su radiante en la constelación de Orión, que empieza a ser visible en estas fechas a partir de las 2 de la madrugada. El radiante es el punto del cielo del que parecen surgir las estrellas fugaces cuando las vemos. Si vemos un meteoro que no proviene de esa zona del cielo seguramente pertenezca a otra lluvia de estrellas o se trate de un meteoro esporádico.

Las Oriónidas son unos meteoros muy rápidos (aproximadamente 65 km por segundo) y tienen una tonalidad verdosa y amarillenta.

La constelación de Orión en el cielo nocturno

Origen de las Oriónidas

Estas estrellas fugaces tienen su origen en el famoso cometa 1/P Halley que completa una órbita alrededor del Sol cada 76 años y la última vez que lo vimos cerca de la Tierra fue en 1986. En su viaje por el Sistema Solar el cometa va desprendiendo pequeñas partículas que quedan suspendidas en el espacio.

La Tierra atraviesa la órbita del cometa Halley todos los años por estas fechas y cuando las partículas del cometa entran en la atmósfera de nuestro planeta se desintegra por la fricción con el aire generando esas estelas luminosas que conocemos como «estrellas fugaces».

estrellas fugaces
Estrellas fugaces

Estas partículas son más pequeñas que un grano de arroz y nunca alcanzan la superficie de nuestro planeta como si puede ocurrir con los meteoros más grandes y brillantes. Solamente cuando alcanzan el suelo reciben el nombre de meteorito.

Cuándo se podrán ver las estrellas fugaces

Las Oriónidas se pueden observar entre el 2 de octubre y el 7 de noviembre aunque su pico de actividad se registra en la noche entre el 21 y 22 de octubre, momento en que debería alcanzar una THZ de 23. Esto quiere decir que, en las mejores condiciones de observación posible y si el radiante estuviera en el cénit podríamos observar 23 meteoros en una hora.

No obstante las tasas de actividad pueden variar de un año a otro y no es infrecuente que se produzca un «estallido» de actividad en el que se pueden observar muchos más meteoros. Esto sucedió, por ejemplo, en el año 2006 cuando la Tierra atravesó una nube muy densa del tubo meteórico y se pudieron ver el doble de meteoros de lo que es habitual.

La mejor hora para ver las Oriónidas es desde las 3 de la mañana hasta antes del amanecer.

Los mejores lugares para ver la lluvia de estrellas

Ya hemos escrito anteriormente un buen artículo sobre consejos de observación de las estrellas fugaces. Para las Oriónidas no hay excepción. Necesitarás ir a un lugar con un cielo oscuro sin contaminación lumínica, alejado de las luces de los pueblos y ciudades. Procura que sea un lugar relativamente elevado para no tener obstáculos naturales que impidan la correcta visibilidad.

Observación de las Perseidas en 2017
Tumbonas para ver las estrellas fugaces, la mejor opción

En España hay algunas zonas muy buenas para ver estrellas fugaces como por ejemplo el P.N. de Cabañeros, los geoparques de Molina de Aragón o de Las Villuercas, los Pirineos y prepirineos, las cuencas mineras de Teruel, la isla de La Palma… son solo algunas ideas. Puedes consultar un mapa de contaminación lumínica que te indicará algunas zonas oscuras donde todavía es posible observar las estrellas.

¿Qué más podemos ver en el cielo?

Durante estas noches, además de estrellas fugaces podemos disfrutar en el cielo de algunas constelaciones otoñales interesantes como por ejemplo Tauro. Con unos simples prismáticos disfrutaremos de multitud de objetos celestes. Las constelaciones de Pegaso, Andrómeda, Casiopea y Cefeo ocupan una posición privilegiada en el cielo. Es un momento ideal para observar la gran Galaxia de Andrómeda, el objeto más lejano visible a simple vista.

m42 700
La gran Nebulosa de Orión

También tenemos la oportunidad de disfrutar de las últimas oportunidades durante este año para ver algunas constelaciones veraniegas como el Cisne, el Águila, la Lira o Hércules. La zona más interesante de la Vía Láctea se va despidiendo de nosotros hasta la primavera del año que viene. Ya de madrugada podremos empezar a disfrutar de Orión y de M42, una delicia incluso con prismáticos.

Así, como ves, hay muchas más cosas interesantes en el cielo estos días además de las Oriónidas ¿Tienes intención de ir a verlas? ¡Cuéntanos tus planes o tus experiencias!


Prime Day camera deal: Save $500 on one of the best mirrorless cameras — Nikon Z7 II now $2496.95


If you’re an astrophotographer looking for a great deal on one of the best cameras this Prime Day, then you’re in luck, as Amazon has slashed a whopping $500 off the price of the Nikon Z7 II — making it now just $2496.95. That’s a 17% saving which, doesn’t sound like a huge amount, but $500 is actually quite a big saving, especially for a camera of this caliber.

When we reviewed the Nikon Z7 II last year, we found that it was especially adept at astrophotography and low-light shooting, but is overall outstanding at every style of photography. It has an incredibly wide ISO range from 64-25,600 which jumps to 32-102,400 when expanded.