Learn to Take Stunning Pictures of the Moon with a Smartphone and Backyard Telescope
This is a lot of fun. Here at UW, we enjoy playing around with technology without spending a lot of money. A couple years ago we figured out a cool and cheap way to take stunning pictures of the moon. Two things are needed: a smartphone and a telescope. The caveat? Well, it takes a lot of time, patience, and tries to get that one shot that’s just right. But on a warm summer night when there’s a bright moon and nothing better to do….why not?
Here’s our proven method
- Get a cheap backyard telescope. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy; we picked up ours for $20 at a garage sale. It may not be able to give you the planets, but any telescope should be able to give you a clear view of the moon. NOTE: for best results, use a telescope with an upright eyepiece (that forms a right angle with the telescope). This design allows easy access between phone and lens.
- Wait for a night when the moon is really bright and the skies are clear, then bring it outside, put in the best eyepiece available, and place your smartphone’s camera lens right up to the eyepiece, but there should be no contact between the two. If done right, the moon should come into focus on your screen, and look something like this…
- Stabilize the shot if the autofocus doesn’t do it for you. This is the tricky part. It’s best if your phone’s camera has an autofocus feature, but you’ll probably need to manually adjust it anyway by tapping the screen periodically. It might sound easy, but depending on the phone and the telescope, you may have to take the time to carefully adjust the distance between the camera lens and the eyepiece. Also, as you’re doing that, don’t forget that the moon is constantly moving in the night sky. You’ll have to adjust the telescope periodically as the moon will move out of view every couple of minutes.
- Have fun! Take as many pictures as you can; you can weed out the bad and blurry ones later. Go crazy and run your best photos through filters to make it look sharper, brighter, or change the moon’s color like we did.
Have fun and good luck. Check out our gallery below!