Astrophotography Tips

Posted on December 2, 2020

If you are interested in astrophotography, there are 3 things you want to take into consideration about the environment before you drive hours to a location or plan a night out.

  • What is the light pollution level where your location is?
  • What is the phase, rise, and set of the moon?
  • What is the weather going to be?
Light Pollution:
You can drive a good ways out of town and still have your shots overcome by the city lights if the city is large enough. I live in a relatively small city (~160k) in comparison to metropolis’s I’ve lived in (~2-3M), and I still have to drive well over 50 miles out of town to get away from the glow and light funnel that the city generates. There is are known dark sites (very little to zero light pollution) around the world other photographers have found and share with others to help with this specific problem. That site is Dark Site Finder. All you have to do is find the best location for your outing and make a night of it.

World View - Full Image
The Moon:
Finding out when the new moon is fairly elementary; all you have to do is check online and see exactly when the moon rises, sets, and what phase it’s in. A good site I have used in the past is
Time & Date - Moon Phases. There you can easily see if the moon will be an issue or not and plan accordingly.

The Weather:
This issue is a fickle one; finding out the temperature is easy, but it can be warm outside and if it’s overcast, your night is ruined. Forecasting has come a long way and can be fairly accurate, but the main thing you want to find out is the cloud conditions. You want the sky free of clouds, smoke, or anything else that will blur your images. I found a site that has been reliable for cloud cover called Wundermap. This site allows you to see forecasts of cloud cover, smoke, storms, and many other conditions in a given time frame, past or future.

Wundermap - Full Image
Armed with these 3 helpful sites, you are well on your way to capture great images.

Useful Tip: Get more batteries for your camera. Even if you do post editing, it’s surprising how fast you will blow through your fully charges batteries doing astrophotography or night photography.

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