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Practical Astrophotography

Posted by Daniel S. | Found in: Secondary

So, you’ve got all your gear, but you don’t know when or where to go.

This article, I’ll explain the 'how to ' for a successful night of astrophotography.

Where do I go?

So, there are lots of great spots for doing astrophotography. I recommend you go to a high place. I live in Jane Brook, so we don’t have the best night skies. Essentially you want a dark place away from the light pollution. Although in Mundaring and surrounding areas you get beautiful clear skies perfect for the occasion. There are some great apps to help you with finding where things will be. The best all rounder app would be photopills. Basically, you set in where you want everything to be at a specific place and it will give you exact times of when this will happen. Although this app costs $9.99 it is worth it. A great app for finding dark skies is the dark sky finder app this allows you to know where things such as the clouds and the moon are and where they going to be. There is no point going out when you know the conditions are not good otherwise you get dressed up for nothing and who wants that? 

What time do I go? 

So obviously you want to go at night but what time of the year. So, the Milkyway season is between February to October but the best time to shoot it is between May to August. This all has to do with the earth’s rotation not that it matters that much in the big scheme of things. As mentioned above you can use photopills to tell when the stars or moon will be there so you can more accurately plan your shoot. Another app is sunrise companion this app is solely on sunrise and sunset times but this is useful so you can leave as soon as possible, you don’t want to get there, and the sun hasn’t set yet. 

Apps I would recommend include but not limited to;

  • Photopills 
  • Dark sky finder
  • Stellarium
  • Star walk 

A few tips on what not to do!

  • Choose a location that avoids as much light pollution possible. If you are unsure use https://darksitefinder.com/map/ E.g. the city, lampposts, and airglow (also known as nightglow), etc.
  • Shoot in RAW always. (for more on format sizes visit, https://digital-photography-school.com/raw-vs-jpeg/)
  • Set up your gear before dark, so arrive during when there is enough light to see. 
  • Use the apps and perhaps go out with others who have experience. 
Happy hunting for that amazing photograph that people will be in awe of.
Daniel S. (Student)