Smartphone Astrophotography



astronomy, smartphone astrophotography, instructional video


The continuous stream of astronomical information being released to the public has resulted in an increased interest in astronomy (Marusic & Hadzibegovic, 2018). However, the cost of acquiring good quality images of astronomical objects using appropriate astronomical instruments (cameras and telescopes) is still significant. To encourage more activity in this area, it will be necessary to achieve lower costs for higher quality imaging. Over the last few years, smartphone cameras have progressed exponentially in quality and functions, allowing images to be captured with clarity by the most basic of users, without the need for a specific telescope (Blahnik & Schindelbeck, 2021).

The aim of this project was to develop material that allows the demonstration and instruction to students on the use of modern smartphones for astrophotography. This included a comparison between a smartphone and a digital camera, and the development of an educational tool and guide for potential assignments and projects in astronomy at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

A series of photographs were obtained of a number of celestial features using both a typical DLSR (Canon 450D) and a Smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra). A range of exposure parameters (ISO and exposure time) were examined for image quality. Figure 1 (see Abstract PDF) shows the difference between images, of the Milky Way galactic core. Both photos were taken with the same camera settings (ISO and exposure time). The smartphone image was of excellent quality, without needing processing.

A short instructional video (Fisher, 2022) was created that demonstrated processes for utilizing the smartphone for astrophotography. The video outlined how and when to take photos of a target area (using apps such as Stellarium and Accuweather), how to use a modern smartphone camera (specifically Samsung devices), and how to edit the photographs to improve image quality (using GIMP). This video is to be implemented in our introductory astronomy unit in 2023.

Blahnik, V. & Schindelbeck, O. (2021). Smartphone imaging technology and its applications. Advanced Optical Technologies, 10(3), 145-232. 
Fisher, A. (2022). Astrophotography and editing for Samsung S22 ultra.
Marusic, M, & Hadzibegovic, Z. (2018). Student attitudes towards astronomy: A bi-country questionnaire result. Revista Mexicana de Fisica E, 64(20), 61-69.