Welcome to Technofreak

Hello there. I'm Gregor, owner of Technofreak. I'm located in Central Scotland and have been in the technology business since 1988.

In this tip I'll show you how use your iPhone for astrophotography using the Nightcap App


How to take photos and timelapse video of the stars with an iPhone

Firstly you'll need to install the Nightcap application and secondly a tripod or some way of keeping your phone still so your photos aren't blurred, try sticking a selfie stick in the ground if you're on a budget. Here's the Nightcap icon so you know what you're looking for.



Once installed select the mode to use by pressing the star in the bottom left of the screen. This will display the different photo modes available and again press to select the mode. The two I use most are star trails and ISS.



Once selected mount your phone on a tripod, compose your shot, press the white shutter button and wait for the photo to develop on screen. The best star trail photos are formed over several hours and for perfectly round trails point your phone at the Pole Star (Polaris). If you're not sure where to find it then use a sky mapping app such as SkyView for assistance.

To use ISS mode you'll need to know where the International Space Station will be appearing and disappearing so you can compose your shot. There are plenty of web sites out there with the details of the times it'll be in the sky so simply search for "International Space Station" and the country you're in to find the times it'll be visible. This mode displays the ISS as a bright streak in the photo. Here are a couple of examples taken using star trail and ISS mode.



Finally, I'll briefly mention TL (time lapse video) mode. Again, you'll require to keep your phone steady so mount it on the tripod or whatever other method you have. Next compose your shot then press the TL mode button at the top pictured here. Once you've setup your shot press the white button at the other side of the screen to start and stop the video.



Experiment with different durations and modes to capture objects such as iridium satellites, the International Space Station and even meteors. Here's a short time lapse of the ISS passing over Scotland.



These are only a few thing possible using the NightCap app, experiment with the other settings and modes plus try different subjects in the foreground too. All photos and videos in the examples were taken using the first generation iPhone SE 16GB. Since most long clear nights are during winter you might want to connect your phone to an external power source to prevent the battery from draining too much. Have fun 🙂

First published on the 9th of December 2020