Skip to main content
Ages 13+
Under 13
The Moon

How to Take Astro-Photos With an iPhone


Instagram has become a repository of stupendous images of the cosmos, taken with just an iPhone and a telephoto lens.

A galaxy in spaceHow quickly we get used to marvels. We who can see the stars and the moon at night by gazing upward and rapidly returning our gaze to the ground, and no more. As a result, sometimes the simple fact of seeing the roundness of a planet, of seeing it in three dimensions instead of flat, is enough to change our perspective and remind us that we live in an amazing system of rotating spheres. This possibility of seeing the almost tangible spherical shape of a star was for a long time exclusively possible through remote telescopes only accessible via specialized sites and museums, but now there is a way of tricking with an iPhone to be able to photograph the night sky up close.

An iPhone is now the best device for scientific inspiration and visual dissemination. Several photographers have shown that by adding a lens or a telescope, the iPhone can capture spectacular images of the moon, the sun and nearby planets. The astro-photographer Andrew Symes, for example, began using the iPhone to capture the moon in 2011 and now has an immense repertoire of astronomical photographs in an album called “iPhone Astrophotography”. In an interview with Mic, he said:

The best part is being able to share the magic of what I see through the telescope with so many people,” Symes told Mic in an email. “Astronomy can be a very solitary hobby, and it was only once I was able to take and share images with family and friends that they began to understand why I would spend so much time alone in the cold and dark with a telescope. And now, with social media, I’m able to share these images with thousands of people in ways I could never have predicted.

The moon in spaceThe best thing about it is that, thanks to ingenious photographers such as Symes, taking photographs of the night sky is now an open-coded technique. Symes, but also other amateur photographers, share with us their steps on how to do so. With some relatively simple tools and a home telescope, one can produce extraordinary cosmic photographs.

“I attach my iPhone adapter to the eyepiece I want to use,” he said. “I then go outside and use a different eyepiece to center and focus the object I want to photograph. Once I’m happy that I’ve properly centered the object, I insert my eyepiece/adapter/phone combo into the telescope, refocus, adjust the exposure and start taking photos and/or videos,” Symes says.

John Kittelsrud, for his part, shares with us a more amateur ways of adapting the iPhone to a telescope using glue and a ring of PVC. There is also equipment on sale designed specifically for the iPhone, such as the Skywatcher 114/500 and Meade ETX-125. Astronomy never seemed so accessible and as seductive. Technology is finally bringing the stars back into our hands. It is difficult to believe that some of these images were shot with a smartphone and a little ingenuity.


All photos credit and copyright: Andrew Symes.

Related Articles