If you’ve been shopping around for telescopes, chances are you’ve seen that some have smartphone telescope adapters included.
These make it very convenient for you to take pictures of the celestial objects that you view when looking at the sky.
How do smartphone telescope adapters work?
These adapters are clamped onto the eyepiece of the telescope and they hold your phone in place so that the phone’s camera is located behind the eyepiece. This ensures that whatever is visible will be captured by the camera.
Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider. Read this before you purchase your own smartphone telescope adapter.
The Best Types Of Smartphone Telescope Adapters
There are many types of smartphone telescope adapters available on the market.
Most of them are capable of offering versatility in terms of the smartphones they can be used with and their compatibility with other devices, such as binoculars.
Here are two smartphone adapters to consider:
The Gosky Universal Cell Phone Adapter mount is compatible with telescopes, binoculars, microscopes, and other devices. It has a shield that blocks out unwanted light so that it can’t interfere with your image quality.
Another worthy product to consider is the Celestron Basic Smartphone Adapter. It is also compatible with many smartphones and other devices. It has been constructed out of metal so that it can handle harsh conditions.
You can purchase both smartphone telescope adapters from Amazon for less than $20, so they won’t break the bank.
How To Install A Smartphone Telescope Adapter
One of the best things about many smartphone telescope adapters is that they are really easy to set up and start using.
Although the installation instructions will vary from one product to the next, generally, you’ll have to follow these steps to install your smartphone telescope adapter.
- Use a knob on the adapter to open its bracket so that you can slot in your smartphone.
- You might have to remove your phone’s case if it can’t fit inside the bracket.
- Ensure that your phone is securely fastened, then check that its camera isn’t restricted or blocked. Some adapters will make use of an eyepiece mounting ring for the phone.
- With some products, the adapter with your phone in it will be attached to the eyepiece, which you’ll then insert into the telescope. You will probably have knobs or screws to tighten to ensure that the eyepiece attaches to the adapter.
- With other types of smartphone telescope adapters, you’ll have to attach the adapter to the eyepiece of the telescope and then slot in your phone. Always read the instruction manual that comes with the smartphone telescope adapter to make setting it up hassle-free.
But, Are Smartphone Telescope Adapters Worth It?
There are advantages and disadvantages to consider when it comes to smartphone telescope adapters.
- A smartphone telescope adapter makes it very convenient for you to start taking pictures of celestial bodies.
- Smartphone telescope adapters can be attached to your telescope in a quick and easy way, without a fuss.
- Using your smartphone to take pictures of the planets and stars is a great way to start astrophotography without the need for expensive equipment.
- If you want to use your smartphone to take pictures, you can run into problems, such as an unsteady hand that can lead to blurry images. A smartphone telescope adapter prevents that from happening because it keeps your phone secure and still.
- If you choose a smartphone telescope adapter that isn’t made of strong and durable materials, it can break easily.
- Some adapters can be tricky to use depending on the model of phone that you have. You are never 100 percent guaranteed that your phone will be securely held in place, it’s a bit of trial and error.
Should You Upgrade To A Camera Instead?
If you are a beginner who enjoys taking pictures of celestial objects, using your smartphone with the use of an adapter can be the perfect way to get into astrophotography.
However, if you are serious about your hobby, you’ll probably consider purchasing a camera instead.
There are limitations to using a smartphone instead of a camera, such as a DSLR, for astrophotography.
These include how you won’t be able to match the quality of images that are produced by a DSLR camera that’s attached to your telescope and equatorial mount so that it can follow the stars.
That said, there are things you can do to make your smartphone work as best as it possibly can ‘“ and produce amazing pictures.
How To Use A Smartphone For Astrophotography
You’ll need apps
You’ll have to be able to adjust your phone’s settings manually in order to elevate it so that it can match an astrophotography camera.
Some important settings you’ll have to tweak include increasing your phone’s ISO, which is basically how much light hits its sensor.
For astrophotography in the dark, you certainly want the ISO to be as high as possible. An app like Camera FV-5 (Android) or NightCap Camera (IOS) will be helpful here.
Invest in eyepiece filters
These can help to block out unwanted light and also increase the details of what your smartphone can capture.
They are especially useful if your smartphone isn’t equipped with exposure control, bearing in mind that you need to be able to take pictures that dim the light so that the images aren’t overexposed.
An example of a filter is a moon filter that will cut out glare and help you see its details, such as craters.
Consider taking videos
Have you ever felt frustrated that the image of the planet that you can see through the eyepiece isn’t the same as what your phone is taking?
To ensure higher-quality images with your smartphone, you need to stack your images with software later.
This uses multiple photos so that the best result can be derived from them. A smart tip is to record a video clip of the planet with your phone and then use image-stacking software that will use the best frames from it.
Zoom in with a lens
Another important piece of gear that you need if you want to take pictures of the night sky with your smartphone is a lens.
This will help you when it comes to zooming into a celestial object to reveal its color and details. You should use a telephoto lens instead of a digital zoom as that will decrease the quality of your image (via Sky at Night).
This type of lens will allow you to take pictures of various things, such as sunsets and the moon. Of course, you’ll have to use the lens with your telescope so that is definitely a non-negotiable item you’ll need if you want to take pictures of the night sky with your smartphone.
Invest in a tripod
You’d need one for your telescope anyway, so make use of it with your smartphone.
This will ensure that your phone remains steady for long exposure shots, which are crucial for astrophotography. These shots allow more light to enter the camera’s sensor.
Process the pics afterward
As with any astrophotography images, it’s worth putting them through editing software afterward to reveal their best parts.
By tweaking the contrast, brightness, and stacking images, as we mentioned earlier, you will be able to make your pictures look so much better. But be warned ‘“ you don’t want to overprocess your images; otherwise, they won’t look natural.
Should you use your phone’s flash to take astrophotography images?
This is a bad idea because the flash function will produce a really dark image.
Always make sure your phone’s flash is disabled before you start taking pictures.
How can you take star trail images with the NightCap app?
Simply turn on star trails mode, press the shutter button, and then wait at least 20 minutes before pressing the shutter button again to save the image.
Wait even longer, and the star trails will be longer!
If you want to make use of your smartphone to take pictures of the moon, planets, and stars, you can definitely go ahead – but you’ll need to purchase a smartphone telescope adapter.
In this article, we’ve talked about these adapters and what they do, as well as provide you with information and tips you need to start taking beautiful astrophotography images with your phone and telescope.