These “fascinating” astronomical photos were taken with smartphones

Tram Ho

Article from astrophysicist Alyn Wallace in South Wales, UK.

Take astrophotography with smartphones (Huawei, Pixel, iPhone, Xiaomi)

If you asked me 5 years ago if smartphones would be able to take beautiful astrophotography photos, my answer would definitely be no. With small sensors and lenses, smartphones don’t have the ability to gather light to capture the stars in the night sky. But if you asked me that question again in this moment, my answer would have changed 180 degrees!

By applying software advancements such as astrophotography mode, artificial intelligence, stitching multiple images to reduce noise, smartphones are now ready for this “difficult” photography subject. A lot of Instagram followers have sent me astronomical photos taken with their smartphones, and I am impressed.

Google Pixel Astrophotography Mode

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The Milky Way taken from the Pixel 4a’s astronomy mode. Cornwall, England by @ayers949.

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Constellation Pleiades (M45) in Wales. Pixel 4XL by Alyn Wallace.

On Pixel products, Google has equipped a special mode for astrophotography. This mode is “hidden” slightly when we have to enter night mode (Night Sight) to access, and your smartphone must also be mounted on a solid tripod. In this mode, the machine will take a lot of 15 seconds exposure photos, the maximum total time is up to 4 minutes. The photos will then be stitched together to reduce the amount of noise, applying smart filters from Google’s AI to produce the final image.

Stack photos by hand

Currently, no smartphone has an automatic astrophotography mode like the Pixel, but we can also do it manually using the application on the computer, with Windows as Starry Landscape Stacker and Mac as Sequator. To take multiple photos, go into the camera’s professional shooting mode (Pro Mode) and adjust the shutter speed to suit the scene, leaving RAW images if the camera allows. Then take the photos to combine with software on the computer, adjust if necessary.

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Xiaomi Mi9T, 470 photos taken in 3 days in São Paulo, Brazil by @lucasgoncalvesmiranda.

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Milky Way in Turkey, 6 photos taken from Xiaomi Mi10T by Okan Bozat.

Panorama photo

Besides stitching together many similar photos, Panorama collage is also a way for you to have high-quality astrophotography with low noise. Panorama shots require a solid tripod and the patience to take multiple shots while standing in one spot!

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Collage Panorama with PTGui application, from Huawei P40 Pro by @astropolo_.

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The final result is highly detailed and free of noise!

Use a star tracker

The Star Tracker allows you to capture a certain constellation with a fixed position, before it moves into a trail in the sky. Combined with the image overlay technique, you will discover dim, low-brightness stars with your smartphone.

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Milky Way taken from Huawei P30 Pro by Nico Carver

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The Milky Way at a Road in Chile, Xiaomi Mi Note 10 by Yuri Beletsky

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The Milky Way at Inceğiz Kanyonu, Turkey by Okan Bozat using Xiaomi Mi10T

Take pictures through a telescope

To capture more “close-up” of distant objects in the sky, we will need a telescope because the zoom capabilities on smartphones currently do not meet this type of photography.

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Eclipse, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter taken with iPhone 6 through the 8-inch Dobsonian telescope. Louisiana, USA by @loganoileau

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The Orion Nebula and Mercury transiting the Sun taken with the iPhone SE, Celestron 130slt telescope. @Southern_rantyhotographer

Photographing the distant Universe without a telescope

Even without a telescope, you can experiment with the camera’s zoom capabilities to capture a certain constellation. The overlapping technique also needs to be used in parallel because when zooming on a smartphone will create a lot of noise, the resolution will be lower.

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Andromeda Galaxy with Huawei Mate 20 Pro zoom mode by Almatsum Almaadi

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Partial eclipse with zoom feature on Xiaomi RealMe XT by Jashandeep Singh

Huawei’s Moon Mode

If you have a Huawei smartphone, try “Moon Mode” to capture the Moon and planets close to Earth. This mode works best on full moon days, clear skies and no rain.

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Moon in Huawei P30 Pro’s Moon mode @dakri_und_wer_bist_du

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Saturn, Jupiter and the moon using the P30 Pro’s Moon Mode by VIs Pat

Shooting star exposure

If you shoot the night sky for a long time, you can create quite nice Star trails photos. There are applications that support this type of shooting like NightCap on iPhone and with Android, Star Trails or Light Trails. This application will be responsible for taking multiple 30-second exposure photos and then stitching them together to create shimmering trails in the sky.

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1 hour exposure photo with Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro by Yuri Beletsky

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Shot with exposure app by Pata Nahi

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Star trails and fireflies with Redmi Note 7 Pro by @Genda_fool

Landscape astrophotography

To make the astrophotography more beautiful, you can also intermingle with landscapes on Earth.

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Comet NEOWISE above Brecon radio, Wales, taken on Xiaomi Mi8. @adamtattonreid

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Noctilucent clouds over Dublin captured on Samsung Galaxy S20. @ roman1e2f5p8s

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The aurora was captured on the Huawei P30 Pro. @zenderfull

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Lightning when Taal volcano erupts in the Philippines taken by @eugeneappleseed on iPhone 11

Although a professional camera will still be the best device for astrophotography with its optics, I am really surprised with the upgrade of smartphones in the past 5 years. With features such as automatic photo collage, assistive applications and artificial intelligence AI, smartphones have allowed everyone to explore astrophotography without spending too much money. for equipment purchases.

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Source : Genk