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How to take shots of the moon with your telescope

Last Updated: 19.05.24


If you’re passionate about the sky and its wonders you must have already thought about a thousand methods to take pictures of it. Although most of your ideas and visions are correct, they are also quite expensive. Shooting the moon through a regular camera lens implies using a sophisticated lens, a qualitative camera, and lots of practice. In addition, you will require high-quality objectives that can end up costing more than one thousand dollars.

If you’re not ready to pay that much for a single photo but would still like to try out your luck, you can do so with the help of a telescope. We know what you’re about to say, that telescopes are also expensive. Well, if you plan on running for the National Geographic’s annual photography competition, you most probably require not only top-quality technology but also a lot of luck. Sure, telescopes could be expensive but you don’t need such a product in order to take a clear and good shot of the moon.

Luckily, the moon is the Earth’s closest sky object and the brightest, so you can still take amazing pictures with a lower-quality telescope and an average camera. If you want to learn more about the technique, check out our following tips.


Choosing the type of telescope

As we previously mentioned, some top-quality telescopes can end up costing thousands of dollars but they are mainly intended for commercial use or for truly passionate people. Newbies don’t have to spend a fortune and they can still enjoy top quality with a regular telescope that won’t cost you more than a couple of hundreds. You can still see the moon and pretty much everything surrounding our planet with a top quality 70mm telescope, and those are not hard to find or expensive.

If you’re looking for an excellent telescope for beginners we can suggest both refractors and reflectors. These types of telescopes use either mirrors or lenses to capture the brightness of an object and deliver a qualitative image of it to your eyes.


Choosing the camera

When it comes to your camera, there are several methods to use one along with your telescope. As we said before, the moon is the Earth’s natural satellite and the closest celestial object to the Earth, which means it is also the brightest ones. This translates into the fact that you won’t require any additional tools to take great shots of it, as long as you’re familiar with the techniques.

You can choose between a DSLR digital camera, a film camera, and even your regular smartphone’s camera. All these three methods will work out great without needing additional accessories.

The method you are looking for is called afocal photography because you’ll just have to focus the telescope on the object you want to picture (in our case, the moon), and then use your camera to point into the eyepiece of the telescope to take the picture.

The method’s efficiency depends a lot on your telescope’s eyepiece size, so we suggest choosing one with a big eyepiece. The larger the eyepiece, the easier it will be for you to use your phone camera or DSLR camera to take a picture of the moon.

However, making the camera to stay steady is the trickiest part. Lighter cameras and phone cameras can be easily taped to the telescope. Make sure the tape is carefully placed to not damage the telescope after taking it off. If you own a large camera with a big objective, the best way is to use a tripod.


How to choose the best tripod

Make sure the tripod you choose matches the size and weight of your telescope and still is stable enough to support your camera too. We suggest opting for a sturdy product made from stainless steel and not the usual ones made of plastic which can easily break.

In addition to the tripod, it is also a good idea to place an additional weight on the tripod’s bottom leg to ensure more stability and steadiness. This will help you out a lot if you plan on taking long photography sessions and you don’t want your hands freezing and shaking on the camera.

Additional accessories required

The afocal photography method is the easiest and cheapest solution and it will work fine when photographing the moon. However, if you’re looking for a more professional method, you can choose the prime focus one. It is slightly harder and more expensive, but it will provide superior quality pictures. With a little bit of practice, you can publish your own album with pictures of the moon.

The prime focus method requires the help of an additional T-ring adapter that should be compatible with your type of camera and telescope. Each of these T-rings cost about 25 dollars, and they will help you directly connect the camera to the telescope without requiring the help of the eyepiece or the lens. It is also great for large DSLR cameras that have powerful magnification rates and large objectives.


Other tips to consider

The telescopes have a higher temperature than what is usually experienced outside so, before starting your moon photoshoot, it would be best to let your telescope to cool down for an hour. Keep the lens or eyepiece covered to avoid condense and make sure your night vision is good for this kind of experience. It may take more than one hour until perfectly adjusting to the atmospheric conditions and your new photography equipment, so the key is not to give up.



Ioana Moldovan

Ioana’s professional experience in the optics field has helped her understand the value of passing her knowledge forward. Her curious personality helps her gather useful information for her readers and her goal is to make technical information fun and accessible to everyone.

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