How to take astronomy photographs

Learn how to get started in astrophotography with step-by-step guides created by leading astrophotographers.

How to take astronomy photographs

If you’ve been inspired by the images from the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition and would like to try your own hand at astrophotography, then you’re on the right page. View the following videos and step-by-step guides to learn about how to get started – from what equipment you need, to how to tackle specific astronomical subjects, to processing your photos. Those who are already taking pictures of the night sky will find expert tips and advice on improving your skills, as well as explanations from our competition winners to help you understand how they achieved their shot. Read on to find out more.

Step by step guides

Our step-by-step guides show you the best ways to approach specific astronomical subjects to get satisfying results – from achieving colour views of objects outside our solar system, to using long exposures to capture star trails.

How to photograph deep space objects

Long-exposure photography is the best way to see and capture colour views of our distant neighbourhood.

How to photograph the Moon

The Moon is a wonderful object to photograph, with constant changes of view throughout the lunar cycle.

How to photograph aurorae

Aurora photography provides a great opportunity to escape to a world with just you, your camera and the Universe.

How to photograph comets

Photographing a comet is a once-in-a-lifetime experience which can be achieved with relatively modest equipment.

How to photograph star trails

The easiest way to capture star trails is to take one long exposure, of at least 30 minutes.

Download our guides as PDFs

Download our schools guide to observing and photographing the night sky 

Download our photographing aurora guide

Download our photographing comets guide

Download our photographing deep space guide

Download our photographing the Moon guide

Download our photographing star trails guide

Video guides

Watch the following videos guides from the Royal Observatory to get additional tips and advice.

In the right spot

Steven: in the right spot from Royal Observatory Greenwich on Vimeo.

Anyone can see the Moon 

Daniel: anyone can see the Moon from Royal Observatory Greenwich on Vimeo.

Stealing a bit of the Universe

Stealing a bit of the Universe from Royal Observatory Greenwich on Vimeo.

Looking on distant worlds 

Nick: looking on distant worlds from Royal Observatory Greenwich on Vimeo.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition

The Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition is an annual global search for the most beautiful and spectacular visions of the cosmos by amateur and professional astrophotographers. The winning images are showcased in a stunning exhibition at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. 

Visit the IAPY 2015 exhibition