Lunar iPhone Photography

I finally got to spend some long overdue time in the observatory last night. The sky was clear and calm and the temperature was a mild and pleasant.

201460414_notebookInstead of spending a lot of time fooling with equipment, alignment, and calibration needed for actual astrophotography, I decided to focus more on ‘the moment.’ I wanted to pay attention to what I was looking at through the telescope. I decided to do some ‘old school’ sketching, so as to notice all the details in the eyepiece that I might have missed while doing long-exposure astrophotography. I sat on my stool with my (100% custom made)  astronomy sketchbook* on one knee and simply drew what I saw through the eyepiece – no fancy computer autoguided telescopes and expensive cameras. Just  some paper, a pencil, and the heavens… like the Original Astronomers. Galileo would be so proud ;)

The time I spent sketching was alarmingly meditative, relaxing, and fun! Having never done it before, I was worried I wouldn’t find the right target or not be able to faithfully capture what I saw through the eyepiece on paper, but as soon as I started, all my worries drifted away. I got into the zone and forgot about the world for a few moments and was able to remember why I got into astronomy in the first place. I can’t wait to do it again!

20160414_mooon_sketch 20160414_jupiter_sketch









But alas… the ‘awe’ got the best of me. I couldn’t help but capture some of the things I was seeing in an actual photograph. I begrudgingly held my iPhone up to the eyepiece and snapped a few pictures to share. But you know what? Whether it be crude sketching or technical photography, I was enjoying my time with the sky. Either way, that time is priceless to me.

(Click on each image to embiggen!)


32mm eyepiece / 6″ AT6RC f/9


12.5mm eyepiece / 6″ AT6RC f/9


12.5mm + 2x Barlow eyepiece








Lastly, here’s a shot of Jupiter and the four Galilean moons captured with my iPhone. (How crazy is it that we live in an age where we can snap pictures of alien moons with a device we all carry in our pockets?)

*I took a stack of black construction paper and glued one edge together with wood glue and mounted it onto a stiff piece of cardboard backing. Turned out great for my purposes!

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