The Solar System with iPhone

13 Mar

I’ve been photographing the night sky through my telescope with my iPhone since 2011, but two objects have eluded me: Uranus and Neptune. Finally, in early 2017, I was able to capture them both. As a result, I’ve been able to assemble my first complete iPhone astrophotography solar system collage!


All planets in the above image were taken with an iPhone 6 or iPhone 4S through my Celestron NexStar 8SE telescope. The image of the sun is a composite image made from two photos taken with my iPhone 4S through my Coronado PST solar (H-alpha) telescope.

All images were photographed and edited using the techniques described in my Smartphone Astrophotography blog post, and many of the original individual images can be found on my Flickr account.

Photo Details:

Sun & Prominence, May 19, 2012
Composite image taken with iPhone 4S through Coronado PST H-alpha solar telescope.

Mercury, May 24, 2014
My first telescopic photo of tiny Mercury. Stack of 26 frames taken with iPhone 4S attached to NexStar 8SE telescope.

Venus, July 2, 2015
Stack of 51 frames taken with iPhone 6 through 8″ telescope. Processed in Registax, Nebulosity, Gimp & Flickr.

Mars, June 24, 2016
Stack of 1200 frames with iPhone through NexStar 8 SE telescope. Stacked & edited in PIPP, Autostakkert, Registax, Nebulosity & Gimp.

Jupiter & Double Moon Shadow Transit, March 22, 2016
Includes Great Red Spot and shadows of moons Io & Europa. Stack of 700+ frames taken with iPhone 6 through 8″ telescope.

Uranus, Feb 26, 2017
Stack of 150 iPhone 6 video frames taken with the NightCapPro app through 8″ telescope.

Neptune, Jan 2, 2017
Stack of 5 single images taken with iPhone 6 using the NightCapPro app through 8″ telescope.

Let me know what you think in the comments and feel free to reach out to me via Twitter @FailedProtostar!


10 Responses to “The Solar System with iPhone”

  1. Willow Wood March 16, 2017 at 6:44 pm #

    This is amazing! Well done you. Space is so cool, and it’s really impressive you captured these shots on your IPHONE. Like, wow. I knew the camera was good, but this is beyond what I would have believed. Great project 😀

  2. Cipriano March 30, 2017 at 10:16 am #

    I am a photographer and astronomy enthusiast. I threw away my DLRS camera to take pictures with my smartphone … This blog has ignited in me the idea to photograph the planets with my smartphone.
    I suggest you get yourself a instagram account.
    Yesterday i take a nice picture of orion’s constallation…thanks for the cool advise you wrote in this blog. Just in case this is my instagram account @ciprianogiuliani_art
    Bye bye

    • canadianastronomy March 30, 2017 at 11:05 am #

      Thank you so much! I wish you success and I DO have an Instagram account – you can follow me @FailedProtostar! Cheers!

  3. ThePolyBlog July 25, 2019 at 10:31 am #

    Hi Andrew, me again (PolyWogg aka Paul from Nepean with same set up as yours, more or less). I got a new XS Max for the New Year, having lots of fun with single frames etc., as well as some video, and playing with software etc.

    But while I have almost the same setup as you, I’m having huge problems getting good focus. Do you have any specific tips for focus? Did you do it in video mode and then switch? Focus on a star and then move back to the planet and hope for the best? Pin-point focus on the moons and then alter the ISO to get the planet?

    I’ve tried “zooming” in on the planets (Jupiter and Saturn), and I’m only doing single frames for now, but I’m having a lot of trouble getting stuff in focus…

    (For reference, I’m in Nepean, have 8SE too, stock mount, no wedge, multiple EPs, Celestron NexYZ adapter, XS Max, Night Cap, etc.). It’s a good setup, modelled on yours, but I am struggling to get much that is usable other than the moon. I know for stars people often use magnifying glass to view it on the screen to make sure it’s pinpoint sharp…I’m having SOME success, but I think my remaining challenge is good focus.

    Any tips appreciated!


    • canadianastronomy July 26, 2019 at 4:52 pm #

      Hi, Paul! Those photos are looking great! For planets I do all my imaging using video mode – either using FilMicPro or the default video camera. (I don’t use NightCapPro for video/stacking, only individual frames.) So, I also do all my focusing in video mode. I zoom in on the planet fairly heavily and slowly turn the focusing knob until I feel like I’ve achieved the best focus possible. Then I zoom out a bit and record my video frames. I used to try to focus on moon craters and then go back to the planet without changing the focus, but I found that it didn’t improve anything and in some cases made things more out of focus for some reason. So I don’t have any foolproof method. I just judge it by eye on screen and hope for the best, really!

      • ThePolyBlog July 26, 2019 at 5:59 pm #

        Thanks Andrew. I also saw in another post that you were using a 7mm plossl. That changes things considerably as I have been trying with just my 25, 17.3 and 15 mm ones, and they just don’t give me a big enough image on the screen. I’ve been reluctant to go that powerful, as I feel like I get too much turbulence from Centerpointe, but I’ll try getting out to FLO or somewhere like that and maybe using a 9mm Omni. Thanks! I’m also going to play with a bahtinov mask this weekend.

      • Paul Sadler August 12, 2019 at 1:03 am #

        Yep, power was the problem:

        With a 9mm, I started seeing better results. Nothing like yours, but enough with video and more power that I’m ticking the box that I *can* get something useful. Moon? Tick. Planets? Tick. Stars? Not yet…I seem to have trouble focusing well enough.

      • canadianastronomy August 13, 2019 at 8:14 pm #

        Nice! I can’t remember if I said this but DON’T use NightCap to record planets. I use FilMicPro or the default iPhone camera video recorder.

      • Paul Sadler August 13, 2019 at 8:30 pm #

        Hmm…I think you did say that in one of the posts, but I forgot, and just used it. I’ll have to remember those two other options.


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