Must-Have Apps For Astrophotographers
While we certainly need a reliable camera and processing software for astrophotography, an often overlooked aspect of this hobby is the preparation we can easily do from our smartphones. We’ve compiled a list of apps to optimize and enhance your experience and skill as an astrophotographer.
Some are free, some are not, but they’re all worth a look. Here are OPT’s Must-Have Apps for Astrophotographers:
This app you may not have heard of until now, often being overshadowed by the hype for the more popular Sky Map or Sky View for Android and iOS, respectively. Celestron’s Sky Portal app is similarly free and is built by astronomers, for astronomers. It also does not suffer from the issues more apparent in the other two apps (poor calibration and functionality issues).
Sky Portal also comes with a database of celestial objects and constellations to look for with extensive text and audio details for many of them. While staring up at the star cluster Pleiades, you can get some insight into what it is and the history behind it all for free.
Another huge bonus for this app is exclusively for aspiring astronomers who already have Celestron telescope products. With this app, you are able to control WiFi compatible Celestron devices and even align your telescope using Sky Portal!
Sky Safari is essentially quite similar to Sky Portal in both interface and functionality. It does have a free version open to all but also has the option to upgrade with either $4, $15, or $40 with each upgrade expanding the object database and features. You won’t go wrong with either one of these first two apps, but if you’re really looking to ramp up your universal sight-seeing, this is the best astrophotography app for Android.
Another huge aspect of this, similar to Sky Portal, is that it can control WiFi compatible devices from a variety of brands. With Sky Safari you are not limited to Celestron products only--no matter how great Celestron is (and they are). This is the app for when you’re getting serious about astronomy.
This is a game-changer in DSLR astrophotography--and photography as a whole. We say DSLR because most features included in this app are designed for customizing your DSLR camera settings. Certainly, these concepts can be applied to astronomy cameras and the more advanced smartphone cameras with professional customization, but it’s hard to replace a good ‘ole DSLR.
Boasting an exceptional feature list, Photo Pills takes much of the planning and busy-work out of your photoshoots. Planning for Milky Way shots? You’re covered. Need quick calculations for FoV and exposure settings? Done! We at OPT can’t recommend this app any more highly (within reason) than we already do
Photo Pills does come with a price tag of $10 but considering the convenience and scope of functionality, we find it’s worth a lot more.
If you don’t have a DSLR, mirrorless, or astronomy camera and instead use your phone for everything, then this and the next suggestion should be of interest to you.
HD Camero Pro is the best Android camera app that gives heavy customization to your phone’s camera settings. Exposure, ISO, and filters can all be modified as well as excellent HD video capabilities. This comes with a $4.99 price tag, but if you’re not interested in buying yourself a DSLR, this could be perfect for you.
This is essentially the same thing as the Android version above. ProCamera allows you to modify your smartphone camera settings to as professional a level your phone can get. Also included is photo editing software to edit on-the-go with images you’ve just taken. Again, if you’re not interested in getting yourself a DSLR, one of these camera apps is the way to go, and this one will cost you $5.99.
With any of these apps ready to go on your smartphone, you’ll be equipped to image the night sky or simply stargaze whenever the weather allows.
Not sure where to look first? Check this out for some easy-to-find beauties in the sky!
As always, stay safe and keep looking up!