A Guide to the Best Astronomical Events in 2019: When, Where And How To Shoot Them

By Antoni Cladera

No matter where you are on Earth.

As a photographer, you’re always looking for great photo opportunities, right?

To find them…

It’s essential to get inspired, be more creative, pick a great location and come up with different photo ideas with the Sun, the Moon, the Milky Way, Star Trails, lunar eclipses, solar eclipses, Meteor Showers, Moon-planet conjunctions, Moon-planet occultations, multiple planet conjunctions, comets, planet transits across the Sun…

The possibilities are endless.

But the problem is…

How are you going to photograph all these magical events if you don’t know when they happen?

Well, you’re in luck because I’ve done (almost) all the work for you! ;)

In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to imagine, plan and shoot the best astronomical events in 2019.

Everything!

From a complete 2019 astronomy calendar (including the most important celestial events) and multiple inspiring images to step by step guides on how to plan your photo ideas with PhotoPills and on how to actually photograph each one of these events.

And the good news is that you’ll be able to photograph most of the astronomical events on this calendar with your camera. Nevertheless, you may need a telescope for some of them (and/or a solar filter plus a pair of solar eclipse glasses!).

I have organized the events on the calendar by date. For certain events, I also have included the time it happens in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) as a base reference.

Obviously, you can use the PhotoPills Planner to convert UTC times into your local time. All you have to do is:

  • On the Planner, move the Red Pin and place it in Iceland, whose local time is always equivalent to UTC (GMT+0 time zone) and it has no winter/summer time (DST or Daylight Saving Time).
  • Once the Red Pin is in Iceland, set the UTC time of the event using the Time Bar.
  • Then, move the Red Pin to where you want to plan the photo. The UTC time will automatically convert to the local time of the location you choose.

So tell me!

Are you ready to experience some amazing and unique space events?

Feel free to use this guide as a reference and check it out as the year goes by!

“Do not look at stars as bright spots only. Try to take in the vastness of the universe.“ - Maria Mitchell

Content

  1. The 2019 astronomy calendar highlights
  2. January 2019 astronomical events, one by one
  3. February 2019 astronomical events, one by one
  4. March 2019 astronomical events, one by one
  5. April 2019 astronomical events, one by one
  6. May 2019 astronomical events, one by one
  7. June 2019 astronomical events, one by one
  8. July 2019 astronomical events, one by one
  9. August 2019 astronomical events, one by one
  10. September 2019 astronomical events, one by one
  11. October 2019 astronomical events, one by one
  12. November 2019 astronomical events, one by one
  13. December 2019 astronomical events, one by one
  14. How to plan the best 2019 astronomical events
  15. How to shoot the best 2019 astronomical events
  16. Astronomical glossary
  17. Become a legend...

1.The 2019 astronomy calendar highlights

Before we begin...

Don't panic.

Even though throughout this guide you’ll read about many astronomical terms, there’s nothing to worry about them! But if you see that there’s still something you don’t understand, I have written a glossary (section 16) in which you’ll find all the explanations you need.

This way you’ll increase your astronomy knowledge and you’ll know exactly what you want to photograph and how you want to do it. It’s key when you’re imagining and planning the photo!

What’s worth the effort in 2019?

From the celestial point of view, 2019 is a special year. Make the most out of it!

You have the possibility to photograph two solar eclipses (one total and one annular), two lunar eclipses (one total and one partial), three Supermoons and the transit of Mercury across the Sun. All are very special moments that can be the basis of unique and magical images...

In addition to this there is the Milky Way, of course. Its Galactic Center begins to be visible at the end of January in many parts of the world. And it becomes invisible in November from anywhere on Earth.

In 2019 Jupiter and Saturn will be very close to the Galactic Center. Take advantage of it!

And don't forget the zodiacal light, visible in spring and fall in both hemispheres.

Unfortunately, 2019 is not a good year to photograph Meteor Showers as most of them peak on days when there will be a lot of Moon. So, in general, there will be too much light to capture a powerful Meteor Shower. This is the case of the Lyrids, the Perseids, the Leonids, the Orionids and the Geminids.

But there’s still some good news. Although not the most powerful ones, the conditions for the Quadrantids, the Eta Aquariids, the Delta Aquariids, and the Ursids will be great.

Nor is it a good year to observe comets: few are visible and those you can see are not too bright (their magnitude is relatively high).

That said, let's go with what really matters ;)

A summary of the 2019 highlights

This table is a summary of the most important astronomical events of 2019.

Moreover, throughout this guide you will find a section detailing the most important events for each month of the year, including the areas where they are visible.

Your location on Earth will determine which events you'll be able to photograph and which you won't. So you should use PhotoPills to get out of doubt, to quickly find out if an event is visible or not in your location (or where you want to go to photograph it) and to plan your photo of the event down to the last detail (section 14).

DateEventComments
January 3-4Quadrantids Meteor ShowerMoon phase: 3.7%.
January 5-6Partial solar eclipseVisible in parts of northeastern Asia (Taiwan, China, North Korea, Russia) and the northern Pacific Ocean (including Alaska).
January 20-21Total lunar eclipseVisible throughout most of North America, South America, the eastern Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Europe, and western Africa.
January 21Full Moon (Supermoon) 
January 31Conjunction of the Moon and Venus (occultation)Occultation visible across the Pacific and in northern South America.
February 4New MoonThe Milky Way season starts in February in the Southern Hemisphere.
February 19Full Moon (Supermoon) 
February 26Mercury at Greatest Eastern ElongationThe best time to photograph Mercury is shortly after sunset.
March 6New MoonThe Milky Way season starts in March in the Northern Hemisphere.
March 21Full Moon (Supermoon) 
March 29Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn (occultation)Occultation visible across the Indian Ocean, southern Africa and the eastern coast of Brazil.
March 30Mars meeting the PleiadesOpen star cluster visible to the naked eye.
April 5New Moon 
April 11Mercury at Greatest Western ElongationThe best time to photograph Mercury is shortly before sunrise.
April 19Full Moon 
April 25Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn (occultation)Occultation visible in eastern Australia, New Zealand, the southern Pacific Ocean and southern South America.
May 4New Moon 
May 6-7Eta Aquariids Meteor ShowerMoon phase: 3.1%.
May 18Full Moon 
May 22Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn (occultation)Occultation visible in New Zealand, Australia, the southern Indian Ocean and southern Africa.
May 29-30ManhattanhengeBest locations: 14th Street, 34th Street, 42nd Street, 57th Street y 79th Street.
June 3New Moon 
June 9Venus meeting the PleiadesOpen star cluster visible to the naked eye.
June 10Jupiter at oppositionIt's brighter than at any other time of the year and is visible throughout the night.
June 17Full Moon 
June 19Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn (occultation)Occultation visible in southern South America and southern Africa.
June 23Mercury at Greatest Eastern ElongationThe best time to photograph Mercury is shortly after sunset.
July 2Total solar eclipsePath of totality only visible in the southern Pacific Ocean, central Chile and central Argentina. Partial eclipse visible in most of the southern Pacific Ocean and in western South America.
July 2New Moon 
July 16-17Partial lunar eclipse (and Full Moon)Visible throughout most of North America, South America, the eastern Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Europe, and western Africa.
July 30-31Delta Aquariids Meteor ShowerMoon phase: 2.9%.
August 1New Moon 
August 9Mercury at Greatest Western ElongationThe best time to photograph Mercury is shortly before sunrise.
August 12Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn (occultation)Occultation visible in the central Pacific Ocean, northern New Zealand, Australia and Southeast Asia.
August 15Full Moon 
August 30New Moon 
September 10Neptune at oppositionIt's brighter than at any other time of the year and is visible throughout the night.
September 14Full Moon 
September 28New Moon 
October 13Full Moon 
October 20Mercury at Greatest Eastern ElongationThe best time to photograph Mercury is shortly after sunset.
October 28New MoonThe Milky Way season ends in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere.
October 28Uranus at oppositionIt's brighter than at any other time of the year. You need a telescope.
November 2Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn (occultation)Occultation visible in New Zealand.
November 11Transit of Mercury across the SunThis transit fully is visible, from start to finish, throughout South America, Central America, eastern USA and western Africa.
November 12Full Moon 
November 28Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter (occultation)Occultation visible in north Africa, Europe, the Middle East and western Asia.
December 12Full Moon 
December 22-23Ursids Meteor ShowerMoon phase: 11.1%.
December 26Annular solar eclipseVisible in areas of Saudi Arabia, southern India, northern Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Singapore, Guam and parts of the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.
December 29Conjunction of the Moon and Venus (occultation)Occultation visible in the south of South America.

2.January 2019 celestial events, one by one

Nikon D500 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/13s | ISO 1250 | 6450K | 1.4x multiplier

Although the Milky Way is visible every night, in January the core of the Milky Way is not yet visible.

It begins to be visible, albeit for a very short time, at the end of January in many parts of the world. You’ll have to wait until February, or even March depending on where you are, to begin to see it above the horizon at its peak... It will be when what we call the Milky Way season begins (ie. the Galactic Center becomes visible).

Having said that, this year January is packed with cool photo opportunities!

But above all, don’t miss...

  • The Quadrantids Meteor Shower on January 3-4. During those nights the Moon will be pretty thin. So you won’t have any moonlight :)
  • The total lunar eclipse on January 20 or 21, depending on your location… The eclipse happens during the Supermoon, which is very cool!
  • On January 31 you can photograph the conjunction of the Moon and Venus. And depending on where you are on the planet, you can photograph the occultation of Venus by the Moon.

Here you have the complete list of the most important celestial events happening in January 2019.

January 1: Conjunction of the Moon and Venus.

Venus passes at 1.3º south of the Moon at 21:50 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -10.7, and Venus at a magnitude of -4.5. At this time the Moon phase is 16.1%.

January 3: Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter.

Jupiter passes at 3.1º south of the Moon at 07:37 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -9.8, and Jupiter at a magnitude of -1.8. At this time the Moon phase is 7.4%.

January 3-4: Quadrantids Meteor Shower.

The Meteor Shower runs from December 28 to January 12.

But the best night for photographing it is the one between January 3 and 4. The peak is on January 4 at 02:23 UTC with 120 meteors per hour. At this time the Moon phase is 3.7%, so the conditions to enjoy it are very good (there is no Moon).

Unfortunately, this Meteor Shower is only visible from the Northern Hemisphere.

You have all the information you need in our Meteor Showers guide.

January 5-6: Partial Solar Eclipse.

The Moon passes in front of the Sun, creating a partial eclipse of the Sun from 23:34 to 03:48 UTC. The maximum partial eclipse occurs at 01:41 UTC.

It happens on January 5 or 6 depending on your longitude (e.g. in the USA, it happens on the 5th). The partial solar eclipse is visible in parts of northeastern Asia (Taiwan, China, North Korea, Russia) and the northern Pacific Ocean (including Alaska).

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the partial solar eclipse in your location (section 14).

January 6: New Moon.

The Moon is between the Earth and the Sun, so the bright side of the Moon is facing away from the Earth. The Moon phase is 0% at 01:29 UTC.

The days around New Moon are great for photographing the night sky, including the Milky Way.

But during this New Moon of January, the Galactic Center of the Milky Way is visible in very few areas of the world (the more to the south the more visible it is) and for very little time. The only thing that you can photograph is the thinnest part of the arch of our galaxy, which is always visible at night.

Shooting Star Trails images is also a great option. Its pattern depends on your latitude and the direction to which you point your camera at.

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the Milky Way and Star Trails in your location (section 14).

January 6: Venus at Greatest Western Elongation.

When Venus reaches its greatest elongation it’s located 47º west of the Sun, and it’s shining at a magnitude of -4.4. This is the best time to view Venus since it’s so bright that it becomes the third brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon.

It’s often known as the morning star or the evening star. When it’s located west of the Sun, it rises and sets just before the Sun. The best time to photograph it is shortly before sunrise.

January 12: Conjunction of the Moon and Mars.

Mars passes at 5.3º north of the Moon at 19:47 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -11.5, and Jupiter at a magnitude of 0.6. At this time the Moon phase is 37.2%.

The Earth orbit around the Sun lasts one year, and that of Mars lasts about two years. So the brightness of Mars in the sky alternates from year to year. 2018 was an excellent year for Mars and it shone brightly. On the contrary, in 2019 Mars appears fainter in the sky.

January 20-21: Total Lunar Eclipse.

It’s a total lunar eclipse and a Supermoon at the same time… The Moon passes through the Earth's shadow, creating a total lunar eclipse from 03:35 to 06:51 UTC. Totality occurs from 05:42 to 06:44 UTC.

It happens on January 20 or 21 depending on your longitude (e.g. in the USA, it happens on the 20th). The total lunar eclipse is visible throughout most of North America, South America, the eastern Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Europe, and western Africa.

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the total lunar eclipse in your location (section 14).

January 21: Full Moon (Supermoon).

First Supermoon of the year (and an eclipsed one :P). The Full Moon is at 05:17 UTC.

This Full Moon takes place when it’s unusually near to that time of the month when is closest to Earth – the perigee. I mean, it's "only" 357,335 kms (222,038 mi) away. So the Moon appears slightly larger and brighter than in other occasions. This month it’s 7.5% larger than the Moon’s annual mean size. That’s why it’s called a Supermoon.

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the Supermoon in your location (section 14).

January 22: Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter.

Venus passes at 2.3º north of Jupiter at 05:43 UTC. Venus is at a magnitude of -4.3, and Jupiter at a magnitude of -1.9. At this time the Moon phase is 98.5%.

January 30: Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter.

Jupiter passes at 2.5º south of the Moon at 23:54 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -10.9, and Jupiter at a magnitude of -1.9. At this time the Moon phase is 20.7%.

January 31: Conjunction of the Moon and Venus (also occultation).

Venus passes at 0.1º south of the Moon at 17:36 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -10.5, and Venus at a magnitude of -4.3. At this time the Moon phase is 14.9%.

In addition to this, Venus goes behind the Moon on what’s called an occultation. The occultation is visible across the Pacific and in northern South America. Check this world map where you can see where the occultation is visible and at what times.

3.February 2019 celestial events, one by one

Nikon D500 | 500mm | f/8 | 1/125s | ISO 3200 | 7800K | 1.4x multiplier

You can start photographing the Galactic Center of the Milky Way in many areas of the world!

However, in the Northern Hemisphere the Galactic Center is visible during a short period of time. You’ll have to wait a little longer (until March) to see it completely above the horizon.

Note: The Galactic Center is visible at latitudes below 55ºN (more or less). But it depends on the time of year. I recommend you to use PhotoPills to find out what’s going on with the Milky Way in the location you want (section 14). On the other hand, if you live at a latitude above 55ºN you won't be able to see the Galactic Center. But you can see part of the Milky Way core.

At the end of February the zodiacal light (reflection produced by the scattering of sunlight due to particles moving along the entire solar system) also begins to be visible. In the Northern Hemisphere at this time of year, it’s visible to the west, at the end of the astronomical twilight, after sunset, in the direction of sunset. On the contrary, in the Southern Hemisphere it’s visible to the east, before the astronomical twilight begins, before dawn, in the direction of sunrise.

February is full of interesting events that you can photograph. But above all, don't miss...

  • The chance to photograph the Galactic Center. Take advantage of the New Moon week (February 4).
  • The Supermoon on February 19. It’s the second of the three 2019 Supermoons. In addition, the Moon is at its closest point to Earth ("only" 356,763 kms or 221,682 mi away) so it seems 6.6% larger than normal.
  • On February 26 you can photograph Mercury at greatest east elongation.

Here you have the complete list of the most important celestial events happening in February 2019.

February 4: New Moon.

The Moon is between the Earth and the Sun, so the bright side of the Moon is facing away from the Earth. The Moon phase is 0% at 01:29 UTC.

The days around New Moon are great for photographing the night sky.

If you're in the Southern Hemisphere, you can start hunting the Galactic Center of the Milky Way with your camera! And don't forget the Magellanic Clouds heading south.

Depending on your latitude, you can see the Galactic Center closest to the horizon (perfect for panoramas). And as you go to latitudes further south, you can photograph it more and more vertical. For example, in New Zealand you can almost capture it completely vertical.

In February, you can also capture the Galactic Center in the Northern Hemisphere: you see it low, near the horizon... although the conditions are not be as good as in the Southern Hemisphere. And if you don’t get it, you can always wait until March to start enjoying it.

In the Northern Hemisphere you can also photograph the Orion constellation and the Winter Triangle.

And also during the New Moon, you can capture Star Trails, whose pattern depends on your latitude and the direction to which you point your camera at.

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the Milky Way and Star Trails in your location (section 14).

February 18: Conjunction of Venus and Saturn.

Venus passes at 1.1º north of Jupiter at 12:19 UTC. Venus is at a magnitude of -4.1, and Jupiter at a magnitude of 0.4. At this time the Moon phase is 98.0%.

February 19: Full Moon (Supermoon).

Second Supermoon of the year. The Full Moon is at 15:55 UTC.

This Full Moon takes place when it’s unusually near to that time of the month when is closest to Earth – the perigee. I mean, it's "only" 356,753 kms (221,682 mi) away. So the Moon appears slightly larger and brighter than in other occasions. This month it’s 7.8% larger than the Moon’s annual mean size. That’s why it’s called a Supermoon.

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the Supermoon in your location (section 14).

February 26: Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation.

When Mercury reaches its greatest elongation at 21:29 UTC, it’s located 18º east of the Sun, and it's shining at a magnitude of -0.5.

Mercury's orbit is closer to the Sun than that of the Earth, which means that it always appears close to the Sun and is faded because of the Sun's brightness most of the time. You can only observe it for a few days each time it reaches its greatest separation from the Sun (greatest elongation).

This phenomenon repeats itself approximately once every 3-4 months and occurs alternately during the morning or afternoon, depending on whether Mercury is to the east or west of the Sun.

When it’s located east of the Sun, it rises and sets just after the Sun, and it’s visible during the sunset. The best time to photograph Mercury is shortly after sunset.

February 27: Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter.

Jupiter passes at 2.2º south of the Moon at 14:17 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -11.6, and Jupiter at a magnitude of -2.0. At this time the Moon phase is 39.0%.

Throughout the night, you can observe Saturn and Venus as well.

4.March 2019 celestial events, one by one

Nikon Z6 | 200mm | f/4 | 90s | ISO 1600 | 5500K | Pure Night light pollution filter | iOptron SkyGuider Pro | 14 photos stacked

March… Finally! At last! Throughout the month the visibility of the Galactic Center is longer all over the world, multiplying the photographic opportunities :)

You can also capture the zodiacal light. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s visible to the west, at the end of the astronomical twilight, after sunset, in the direction of sunset. On the contrary, in the Southern Hemisphere it’s visible to the east, before the astronomical twilight begins, before dawn, in the direction of sunrise.

But above all, don’t miss...

  • It's time to capture the Galactic Center of the Milky Way! Take advantage of the New Moon week (March 6th).
  • The Supermoon on March 21. It’s the third of the three 2019 Supermoons. In addition, the Moon is at its closest point to Earth ("only" 360,519 kms or 224,016 mi away) so it seems 6.6% larger than normal.
  • On March 29 you can photograph the conjunction of the Moon and Saturn. And depending on where you are on the planet, you can photograph the occultation of Saturn by the Moon.
  • On March 30 you can capture Mars meeting the Pleiades.

Here you have the complete list of the most important celestial events happening in March 2019.

March 2: Conjunction of the Moon and Venus.

Venus passes at 1.3º north of the Moon at 21:29 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -10.3, and Venus at a magnitude of -4.1. At this time the Moon phase is 12.2%.

March 6: New Moon.

The Moon is between the Earth and the Sun, so the bright side of the Moon is facing away from the Earth. The Moon phase is 0% at 16:05 UTC.

The days around New Moon are great for photographing the night sky.

In March, you can fully enjoy the Galactic Center of the Milky Way.

Depending on where you are, in India for example, you may find the Galactic Center near the horizon and capture a spectacular panorama. And if you're a little further south, like Australia's west coast where the skies have no light pollution, you can get an amazing vertical…

Always referring to locations in the Southern Hemisphere, two other galaxies that you can observe (with the naked eye!) and also photograph in clear skies are the Large Magellanic Cloud and the Small Magellanic Cloud.

They are relatively close to the south celestial pole, so from a certain latitude both can become circumpolar. They are located towards the south.

The New Moon also gives you the perfect opportunity to capture Star Trails. Did you know that depending on your location and the direction to which you point your camera at, Star Trails can change their shape?

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the Milky Way and Star Trails in your location (section 14).

March 11: Conjunction of the Moon and Mars.

Mars passes at 5.5º north of the Moon at 12:10 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -10.9, and Mars at a magnitude of 1.3. At this time the Moon phase is 21.2%.

March 20: March equinox.

The March equinox is at 21:44 UTC. This is also the first spring day (spring equinox) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first fall day (fall equinox) in the Southern Hemisphere.

It’s the time when the Sun "crosses" the Earth's equator going from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere.

March 21: Full Moon (Supermoon).

Third and last Supermoon of the year. The Full Moon is at 01:44 UTC.

This Full Moon takes place when it’s unusually near to that time of the month when is closest to Earth – the perigee. I mean, it's "only" 360,519 kms (224,016 mi) away. So the Moon appears slightly larger and brighter than in other occasions. This month it’s 6.6% larger than the Moon’s annual mean size. That’s why it’s called a Supermoon.

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the Supermoon in your location (section 14).

March 27: Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter.

Jupiter passes at 1.5º south of the Moon at 02:28 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -12.1, and Jupiter at a magnitude of -2.2. At this time the Moon phase is 60.7%.

March 29: Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn (also occultation).

Saturn passes at 0.1º north of the Moon at 05:00 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -11.6, and Saturn at a magnitude of 0.4. At this time the Moon phase is 40.2%.

In addition to this, Saturn goes behind the Moon on what’s called an occultation. The occultation is visible across the Indian Ocean, southern Africa and the eastern coast of Brazil. Check this world map where you can see where the occultation is visible and at what times.

March 30: Mars meeting the Pleiades.

Mars passes att 3.1º south of the Pleiades at 03:06 UTC. Also known as the seven sisters, it’s the open star cluster best visible to the naked eye in the night sky.

5.April 2019 celestial events, one by one

Nikon D4s | 14mm | f/2.8 | 25s | ISO 3200 | 3800K | 8 photos stitched in a panorama

April is a relatively quiet month, but pay attention because the night sky always offers interesting photographic opportunities.

For starters, take advantage of the New Moon week to capture the Galactic Center of the Milky Way at its peak. Another very interesting option (and that will leave your friends with their mouths wide open) you can photograph are Star Trails.

Also, at the beginning of the month, you can still capture the zodiacal light. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s visible to the west, at the end of the astronomical twilight, after sunset, in the direction of sunset. On the contrary, in the Southern Hemisphere it’s visible to the east, before the astronomical twilight begins, before dawn, in the direction of sunrise.

Unfortunately, it is not a good year to photograph the Lyrids: there is too much Moon.

During April, make sure you don’t miss...

  • Take advantage of the New Moon week (April 5) to capture the Galactic Center of the Milky Way shining in the sky.
  • On April 11 you can photograph Mercury at greatest western elongation.
  • The Full Moon on April 19 is always an opportunity to get a spectacular image.
  • On April 25 you can photograph the conjunction of the Moon and Saturn. And depending on where you are on the planet, you can photograph the occultation of Saturn by the Moon.

Here you have the complete list of the most important celestial events happening in April 2019.

April 2: Conjunction of the Moon and Venus.

Venus passes at 2.4º north of the Moon at 04:19 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -10.0, and Venus at a magnitude of -4.0. At this time the Moon phase is 9.6%.

April 2: Conjunction of the Moon and Mercury.

Mercury passes at 3.4º north of the Moon at 23:03 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -9.4, and Mercury at a magnitude of 0.7. At this time the Moon phase is 5.7%.

April 5: New Moon.

The Moon is between the Earth and the Sun, so the bright side of the Moon is facing away from the Earth. The Moon phase is 0% at 08:52 UTC.

The days around New Moon are great for photographing the night sky.

In April the Galactic Center of the Milky Way is visible. Are you on the west coast of the USA? Or of Mexico? Then you have the perfect opportunity to capture it on the horizon thanks to a panorama.

And if you're in Chilean Patagonia, for example, you have the Milky Way forming a beautiful diagonal or even a vertical...

You can also capture Star Trails including the Polaris or the south celestial pole... You can create circumpolars, arches, diagonals... ;)

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the Milky Way and Star Trails in your location (section 14).

April 9: Conjunction of the Moon and Mars.

Mars passes at 4.4º north of the Moon at 06:41 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -10.6, and Mars at a magnitude of 1.5. At this time the Moon phase is 15.1%.

April 11: Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation.

When Mercury reaches its greatest elongation at 15:37 UTC, it’s located 27.7º west of the Sun, and it's shining at a magnitude of 0.3.

Mercury's orbit is closer to the Sun than that of the Earth, which means that it always appears close to the Sun and is faded because of the Sun's brightness most of the time. You can only observe it for a few days each time it reaches its greatest separation from the Sun (greatest elongation).

This phenomenon repeats itself approximately once every 3-4 months and occurs alternately during the morning or afternoon, depending on whether Mercury is to the east or west of the Sun.

When it’s located west of the Sun, it rises and sets just before the Sun, and it’s visible before the sunrise. The best time to photograph Mercury is shortly before sunrise.

April 19: Full Moon.

The Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth so the Sun illuminates it completely. Full Moon is at 11:13 UTC.

Full Moon days are perfect for photographing it with an interesting subject. Get the most out of the Full Moon with this article.

April 22-23: Lyrids Meteor Shower.

The Meteor Shower runs from April 14 to 30.

But the best night for photographing it is the one between April 22 and 23. The peak is on April 23 at 12:32 UTC with 20 meteors per hour. At this time the Moon phase is 85.1%, so the conditions to enjoy it are not very good (there is a lot of moonlight).

This Meteor Shower is visible from both hemispheres. Although it’s a little weaker in the Southern Hemisphere.

You have all the information you need in our Meteor Showers guide.

April 23: Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter.

Jupiter passes at 1.4º south of the Moon at 11:35 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -12.4, and Jupiter at a magnitude of -2.4. At this time the Moon phase is 81.6%.

April 25: Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn (also occultation).

Saturn passes at 0.2º north of the Moon at 14:27 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -12.1, and Saturn at a magnitude of 0.3. At this time the Moon phase is 62.8%.

In addition to this, Saturn goes behind the Moon on what’s called an occultation. The occultation is visible in eastern Australia, New Zealand, the southern Pacific Ocean and southern South America. Check this world map where you can see where the occultation is visible and at what times.

6.May 2019 celestial events, one by one

Nikon D4s | 14mm | f/2.8 | 30s | ISO 5000 | 120 photos stacked

Stay tuned because May is a month full of astronomical events. Write them in your diary so you don't miss a single one... ;)

And don't forget to keep in mind the New Moon week. It offers a fantastic opportunity to capture the Galactic Center of the Milky Way (May is a great month for it!).

You can also try taking pictures of Star Trails. The results are amazing and you can play with your creativity in many ways.

This year there are good conditions to photograph the Eta Aquariids. There is hardly any Moon so all you have to do is find a suitable location (no light pollution) to capture the show.

And if you can treat yourself with a trip to New York, Manhattanhenge is a very curious and tremendously photogenic phenomenon that occurs approximately three weeks before and after the June solstice.

But above all, don’t miss…

  • Take advantage of the New Moon week (May 4) to capture the Galactic Center of the Milky Way shining in the sky.
  • The Eta Aquariids Meteor Shower on May 6-7. During those nights the Moon will be pretty thin. So you won’t have any moonlight :)
  • The Full Moon on May 18.
  • On May 22 you can photograph the conjunction of the Moon and Saturn. And depending on where you are on the planet, you can photograph the occultation of Saturn by the Moon.
  • The Manhattanhenge of May 29 and 30. It’s a fantastic spectacle by which the Sun aligns itself during sunset with some of the streets that form a grid on the island of Manhattan in New York (USA).

Here you have the complete list of the most important celestial events happening in May 2019.

May 2: Conjunction of the Moon and Venus.

Venus passes at 3.4º north of the Moon at 11:41 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -9.6, and Venus at a magnitude of -3.9. At this time the Moon phase is 6.4%.

May 3: Conjunction of the Moon and Mercury.

Mercury passes at 2.5º north of the Moon at 06:27 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -8.8, and Mercury at a magnitude of -0.5. At this time the Moon phase is 3.2%.

May 4: New Moon.

The Moon is between the Earth and the Sun, so the bright side of the Moon is facing away from the Earth. The Moon phase is 0% at 22:47 UTC.

The days around New Moon are great for photographing the night sky.

In May the Galactic Center of the Milky Way is visible. From Spain for example, you can capture a beautiful diagonal with the Galactic Center shining. Or if you’re in South Africa, try to work a composition with the Milky Way completely vertical.

You can also capture Star Trails. However, take care of your composition because often times the foreground is as important (or more) than the background. So take a good look at the sky, how you're going to paint with the stars, and how you're going to combine those trails with a catching subject.

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the Milky Way and Star Trails in your location (section 14).

May 6-7: Eta Aquariids Meteor Shower.

The Meteor Shower runs from April 19 to May 28.

But the best night for photographing it is the one between May 6 and 7. The peak is on May 6 at 14:02 UTC with 55 meteors per hour. At this time the Moon phase is 3.1%, so the conditions to enjoy it are very good (there is no Moon).

This Meteor Shower is visible from both hemispheres. Although it's best visible in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere it has a lower intensity.

You have all the information you need in our Meteor Showers guide.

May 7: Conjunction of the Moon and Mars.

Mars passes at 3.1º north of the Moon at 23:36 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -10.2, and Mars at a magnitude of 1.7. At this time the Moon phase is 10.4%.

May 18: Full Moon.

The Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth so the Sun illuminates it completely. Full Moon is at 21:12 UTC.

Full Moon days are perfect for photographing it with an interesting subject. Get the most out of the Full Moon with this article.

May 20: Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter.

Jupiter passes at 1.4º south of the Moon at 16:54 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -12.6, and Jupiter at a magnitude of -2.6. At this time the Moon phase is 96.2%.

May 22: Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn (also occultation).

Saturn passes at 0.3º north of the Moon at 22:14 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -12.4, and Saturn at a magnitude of 0.2. At this time the Moon phase is 83.2%.

In addition to this, Saturn goes behind the Moon on what’s called an occultation. The occultation is visible in New Zealand, Australia, the southern Indian Ocean and southern Africa. Check this world map where you can see where the occultation is visible and at what times.

May 29-30: Manhattanhenge at sunset.

Manhattanhenge occurs when the Sun, at sunset, aligns with the grid formed by the streets of Manhattan Island in New York (USA).

On May 29 and 30 the Sun aligns with the streets of Manhattan.

The best locations are 14th Street, 34th Street (where the Empire State Building is located), 42nd Street (where the Chrysler Building and Tudor City Bridge are located), 57th Street and 79th Street.

7.June 2019 celestial events, one by one

Nikon D4s | 200mm | f/8 | 2s | ISO 1600 | 5500K

Even though the nights in the Northern Hemisphere are shorter than ever, you’ll surely find the opportunity to photograph some of the astronomical events that occur.

Conversely, if you're in the Southern Hemisphere, make the most of the long winter nights. They're perfect for capturing tack sharp stars!

Oh, and remember to look at the date of the New Moon and look for locations to photograph the Galactic Center of the Milky Way and/or Star Trails. June is a perfect month to do so in both hemispheres.

But above all, don’t miss…

  • Take advantage of the New Moon week (June 3) to capture the Galactic Center of the Milky Way shining in the sky.
  • On June 9 you can photograph Venus meeting the Pleiades.
  • On June 10 you can photograph Jupiter at opposition. It’s at its closest approach to Earth and its visible face is completely illuminated by the Sun at a magnitude of -2.6.
  • The Full Moon on June 17 is always an opportunity to get a spectacular image.
  • On June 19 you can photograph the conjunction of the Moon and Saturn. And depending on where you are on the planet, you can photograph the occultation of Saturn by the Moon.
  • On June 23 you'll be able to photograph Mercury at greatest east elongation.

Here you have the complete list of the most important celestial events happening in June 2019.

June 1: Conjunction of the Moon and Venus.

Venus passes at 3.1º north of the Moon at 18:15 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -8.9, and Venus at a magnitude of -3.9. At this time the Moon phase is 2.8%.

June 3: New Moon.

The Moon is between the Earth and the Sun, so the bright side of the Moon is facing away from the Earth. The Moon phase is 0% at 10:03 UTC.

The days around New Moon are great for photographing the night sky.

In June the Galactic Center of the Milky Way is visible. From Patagonia, where the skies are extremely clean, you can capture a beautiful vertical. And from the USA you have the option of capturing a panorama at the beginning of the night and a vertical one before sunrise ;)

You can also capture Star Trails.

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the Milky Way and Star Trails in your location (section 14).

June 4: Conjunction of the Moon and Mercury.

Mercury passes at 3.4º north of the Moon at 15:42 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -8.4, and Mercury at a magnitude of -0.8. At this time the Moon phase is 1.9%.

June 5: Conjunction of the Moon and Mars.

Mars passes at 1.3º north of the Moon at 15:06 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -9.7, and Mars at a magnitude of 1.8. At this time the Moon phase is 6.2%.

June 9: Venus meeting the Pleiades.

Venus passes at 5.0º south of the Pleiades at 01:51 UTC. Also known as the seven sisters, it’s the open star cluster best visible to the naked eye in the night sky.

Unfortunately, the cluster is not clearly and completely visible at this time of year. You can only glimpse it if you are at equatorial latitudes or near the Tropic of Capricorn (south of the equator), slightly above the horizon just before dawn.

June 10: Jupiter at opposition.

At 15:17 UTC, Jupiter is at its closest approach to Earth and its visible face is completely illuminated by the Sun at a magnitude of -2.6.

It’s brighter than at any other time of the year and is visible throughout the night. This is the best time to observe and photograph Jupiter and its four largest moons, which appear as bright spots on both sides of the planet.

However, even being at its closest approach to the Earth, you can only distinguish Jupiter as a star-shaped spot of light with the naked eye. Use a pair of good binoculars to see the planet more clearly as a light spot along with its moons.

June 16: Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter.

Jupiter passes at 1.6º south of the Moon at 18:50 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -12.6, and Jupiter at a magnitude of -2.6. At this time the Moon phase is 99.6%.

June 17: Full Moon.

The Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth so the Sun illuminates it completely. Full Moon is at 08:32 UTC.

Full Moon days are perfect for photographing it with an interesting subject. Get the most out of the Full Moon with this article.

June 18: Conjunction of Mercury and Mars.

Mercury passes at 3.1º north of Mars at 14:43 UTC. Mercury is at a magnitude of 0.1, and Mars at a magnitude of 1.8. At this time the Moon phase is 98.4%.

June 19: Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn (also occultation).

Saturn passes at 0.3º north of the Moon at 03:47 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -12.5, and Saturn at a magnitude of 0.1. At this time the Moon phase is 96.7%.

In addition to this, Saturn goes behind the Moon on what’s called an occultation. The occultation is visible in southern South America and southern Africa. Check this world map where you can see where the occultation is visible and at what times.

June 21: June solstice.

The June solstice is at 15:54 UTC. This is also the first summer day (summer solstice) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first winter day (winter solstice) in the Southern Hemisphere.

June 23: Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation.

When Mercury reaches its greatest elongation at 00:48 UTC, it’s located 25º east of the Sun, and it is shining at a magnitude of 0.4.

Mercury's orbit is closer to the Sun than that of the Earth, which means that it always appears close to the Sun and is faded because of the Sun's brightness most of the time. You can only observe it for a few days each time it reaches its greatest separation from the Sun (greatest elongation).

This phenomenon repeats itself approximately once every 3-4 months and occurs alternately during the morning or afternoon, depending on whether Mercury is to the east or west of the Sun.

When it’s located east of the Sun, it rises and sets just after the Sun, and it’s visible during the sunset. The best time to photograph Mercury is shortly after sunset.

8.July 2019 celestial events, one by one

Nikon D500 | 500mm | f/8 | 1/125s | ISO 100 | 6450K

In 2019 July is full of surprises that go beyond the usual events that occur at this time of year... :)

If you don't have the chance to be close to where they happen, make the most out of the days around the New Moon and look for locations: July is a great month to photograph the Galactic Center of the Milky Way.

Or would you prefer to work on creating Star Trails? Use the PhotoPills Night Augmented Reality view to decide in which direction you want to point your camera and work on different Star Trails’ patterns.

But above all, don’t miss…

  • The total solar eclipse on July 2. Take advantage of this unique opportunity and travel to a place located in the path of totality. The next one won't be until December 14, 2020.
  • If you can't see the total solar eclipse, take advantage of the New Moon week (July 2) to capture the Galactic Center of the Milky Way. It's the last month of optimal visibility!
  • The partial lunar eclipse on July 16 (or 17) can also be a great photo opportunity. But you'll only see it if you're in the right location...
  • The Delta Aquariids Meteor Shower on July 30-31. During those nights the Moon will be pretty thin. So you won’t have any moonlight :)

Here you have the complete list of the most important celestial events happening in July 2019.

July 2: New Moon.

The Moon is between the Earth and the Sun, so the bright side of the Moon is facing away from the Earth. The Moon phase is 0% at 19:17 UTC.

The days around New Moon are great for photographing the night sky.

In July the Galactic Center of the Milky Way is visible. In the Northern Hemisphere the nights are short but if you take good advantage of them and you’re in the south of Europe, for example, you can photograph the Galactic Center completely vertical. And if you’re in Brazil, you can play with the elevation of the Galactic Center and place it almost anywhere you want... ;)

You can also capture Star Trails. Have you ever captured a circumpolar? No? Then it's a good time to try.

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the Milky Way and Star Trails in your location (section 14).

July 2: Total Solar Eclipse.

The Moon passes in front of the Sun, creating a total solar eclipse from 18:01 to 20:44 UTC. Totality occurs at 19:22 UTC. Although this information depends on your position within the path of totality. So use PhotoPills to plan in detail the total solar eclipse.

The path of totality is only visible in the southern Pacific Ocean, central Chile and central Argentina. The partial eclipse is visible in most of the southern Pacific Ocean and in western South America.

Please be cautious and use a solar filter along with a pair of solar eclipse glasses if you plan to observe or photograph the total solar eclipse of the Sun.

To learn how to plan and photograph the solar eclipse, take a look at our detailed guide to solar eclipses.

July 4: Conjunction of the Moon and Mercury.

Mercury passes at 3.2º south of the Moon at 15:42 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -9.1, and Mercury at a magnitude of 1.4. At this time the Moon phase is 4.8%.

July 5: Conjunction of Mercury and Mars.

Mercury passes at 3.5º south of Mars at 13:27 UTC. Mercury is at a magnitude of 1.9, and Mars at a magnitude of 1.8. At this time the Moon phase is 28.9%.

July 9: Saturn at opposition.

At 16:55 UTC, Saturn is at its closest approach to Earth and its visible face is completely illuminated by the Sun at a magnitude of 0.1.

It’s brighter than at any other time of the year and is visible throughout the night. This is the best time to observe and photograph Saturn and its rings, which are inclined at an angle of 24º. This is almost the maximum inclination they can have so you can clearly observe them.

However, even being at its closest approach to the Earth, you can only distinguish Saturn as a star-shaped spot of light with the naked eye. Use a telescope to see the planet along with its rings.

July 11-12: Manhattanhenge at sunset.

Manhattanhenge occurs when the Sun, at sunset, aligns with the grid formed by the streets of Manhattan Island in New York (USA).

On July 11 and 12 the Sun aligns with the streets of Manhattan.

The best locations are 14th Street, 34th Street (where the Empire State Building is located), 42nd Street (where the Chrysler Building and Tudor City Bridge are located), 57th Street and 79th Street.

July 13: Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter.

Jupiter passes at 2.2º south of the Moon at 19:43 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -12.5, and Jupiter at a magnitude of -2.5. At this time the Moon phase is 90.6%.

July 16-17: Partial Lunar Eclipse (and Full Moon).

The Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth so the Sun illuminates it completely. Full Moon is at 21:39 UTC.

Full Moon days are perfect for photographing it with an interesting subject. Get the most out of the Full Moon with this article.

Moreover, in certain areas of the Earth, the Moon passes through the Earth's shadow, creating a partial lunar eclipse from 20:02 to 23:00 UTC. The maximum lunar eclipse occurs at 21:31 UTC.

It happens on July 16 or 17 depending on your longitude (e.g. in Australia, it happens on the 17). The partial lunar eclipse is visible throughout most of North America, South America, the eastern Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Europe, and western Africa.

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the partial lunar eclipse in your location (section 14).

July 30-31: Delta Aquariids Meteor Shower.

The Meteor Shower runs from July 12 to August 23.

But the best night for photographing it is the one between July 30 and 31. The peak is on July 30 at 17:21 UTC with 20 meteors per hour. At this time the Moon phase is 2.9%, so the conditions to enjoy it are very good (there is no Moon).

This Meteor Shower is visible from both hemispheres. Although it's best visible in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere it has a lower intensity.

You have all the information you need in our Meteor Showers guide.

9.August 2019 celestial events, one by one

Nikon D4s | 35mm | f/1.4 | 13s | ISO 6400 | 3550K

Unfortunately, this year one of the most popular events photographically speaking, the Perseids, are hardly visible. The peak date of this Meteor Shower is very close to the Full Moon. So the sky is too bright... :(

Although in August you can still photograph the Galactic Center of the Milky Way :P

At the end of August, the zodiacal light is visible again. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s visible to the east, before the morning astronomical twilight, in the direction of sunrise. On the other hand, in the Southern Hemisphere it’s visible to the west, at the end of the afternoon astronomical twilight, in the direction of the sunset.

As for Star Trails, you know they are a photographic opportunity I love to play with. They are always the perfect excuse to go out and take pictures at night.

But above all, don’t miss…

  • In August we have two New Moons! Take advantage of the New Moon weeks (August 1 and August 30) to photograph the Galactic Center of the Milky Way.
  • On August 9 you can photograph Mercury at greatest western elongation.
  • On August 12 you can photograph the conjunction of the Moon and Saturn. And depending on where you are on the planet, you can photograph the occultation of Saturn by the Moon.
  • The Full Moon on August 15 is always an opportunity to get a spectacular image.

Here you have the complete list of the most important celestial events happening in August 2019.

August 1: New Moon.

First New Moon of the month :)

The Moon is between the Earth and the Sun, so the bright side of the Moon is facing away from the Earth. The Moon phase is 0% at 03:13 UTC.

The days around New Moon are great for photographing the night sky including the Galactic Center of the Milky Way.

And as I suggest you every month, you can also capture Star Trails.

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the Milky Way and Star Trails in your location (section 14).

August 9: Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter.

Jupiter passes at 2.8º south of the Moon at 22:53 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -12.2, and Jupiter at a magnitude of -2.4. At this time the Moon phase is 72.9%.

August 9: Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation.

When Mercury reaches its greatest elongation at 03:36 UTC, it’s located 19º west of the Sun, and it's shining at a magnitude of -0.1.

Mercury's orbit is closer to the Sun than that of the Earth, which means that it always appears close to the Sun and is faded because of the Sun's brightness most of the time. You can only observe it for a few days each time it reaches its greatest separation from the Sun (greatest elongation).

This phenomenon repeats itself approximately once every 3-4 months and occurs alternately during the morning or afternoon, depending on whether Mercury is to the east or west of the Sun.

When it’s located west of the Sun, it rises and sets just before the Sun, and it’s visible before the sunrise. The best time to photograph Mercury is shortly before sunrise.

August 12: Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn (also occultation).

The Moon and Saturn make a close approach at 09:53 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -12.4, and Saturn at a magnitude of 0.1. At this time the Moon phase is 91.3%.

In addition to this, Saturn goes behind the Moon on what’s called an occultation. The occultation is visible in the central Pacific Ocean, northern New Zealand, Australia and Southeast Asia. Check this world map where you can see where the occultation is visible and at what times.

August 12-13: Perseids Meteor Shower.

The Meteor Shower runs from July 17 to August 24.

But the best night for photographing it is the one between August 12 and 13. The peak is on August 13 at 07:05 UTC with 100 meteors per hour. At this time the Moon phase is 95.5%, so the conditions to enjoy it are not very good (there is a lot of moonlight).

This Meteor Shower is visible and intense in both hemispheres.

You have all the information you need in our Meteor Showers guide.

August 15: Full Moon.

The Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth so the Sun illuminates it completely. Full Moon is at 12:30 UTC.

Full Moon days are perfect for photographing it with an interesting subject. Get the most out of the Full Moon with this article.

August 30: New Moon.

The Moon is between the Earth and the Sun, so the bright side of the Moon is facing away from the Earth. The Moon phase is 0% at 10:38 UTC.

The days around New Moon are great for photographing the night sky. This is the second New Moon of August, something that only occurs in this month throughout 2019.

So take advantage of it because in August the Galactic Center of the Milky Way is visible. You can also capture Star Trails.

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the Milky Way and Star Trails in your location (section 14).

10.September 2019 celestial events, one by one

Nikon Z6 | 18mm | f/4 | 15s | ISO 800 | 3500K

In September the visibility of the Galactic Center of the Milky Way in both hemispheres becomes shorter and shorter until it’s no longer visible in November.

You can also capture the zodiacal light. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s visible to the east, before the morning astronomical twilight, in the direction of sunrise. On the other hand, in the Southern Hemisphere it’s visible to the west, at the end of the afternoon astronomical twilight, in the direction of sunset.

And, as always, don't forget the Star Trails... They'll help you get magical images!

You may also see the comet C/2018 W2 (Africano), which can reach a magnitude of between 9 and 10 by the end of September near the Pegasus constellation. So it’s visible from both hemispheres.

Moreover, this month marks a change of season, from summer to fall in the Northern Hemisphere and from winter to spring in the Southern Hemisphere.

But above all, don’t miss…

  • On September 10 you can photograph Neptune at opposition. It’s brighter than at any other time of the year and is visible all night long.
  • The Full Moon on September 14 is always an opportunity to get a spectacular image.
  • Take advantage of the New Moon week (September 28) to capture the Galactic Center of the Milky Way shining in the sky.

Here you have the complete list of the most important celestial events happening in September 2019.

September 6: Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter.

Jupiter passes at 2.2º south of the Moon at 06:53 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -11.9, and Jupiter at a magnitude of -2.2. At this time the Moon phase is 51.7%.

September 10: Neptune at opposition.

At 07:10 UTC, Neptune is at its closest approach to Earth and its visible face is completely illuminated by the Sun at a magnitude of 7.8.

It’s brighter than at any other time of the year and is visible throughout the night. This is the best time to observe and photograph Neptune.

However, even being at its closest approach to the Earth, you can only distinguish Neptune as a star-shaped spot of light with the naked eye. Use a telescope to see the planet.

September 14: Full Moon.

The Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth so the Sun illuminates it completely. Full Moon is at 04:34 UTC.

Full Moon days are perfect for photographing it with an interesting subject. Get the most out of the Full Moon with this article.

September 23: September equinox.

The September equinox is at 07:36 UTC. This is also the first fall day (fall equinox) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first spring day (spring equinox) in the Southern Hemisphere.

It’s the time when the Sun "crosses" the Earth's equator going from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere.

September 28: New Moon.

The Moon is between the Earth and the Sun, so the bright side of the Moon is facing away from the Earth. The Moon phase is 0% at 18:27 UTC.

The days around New Moon are great for photographing the night sky. In September the Galactic Center of the Milky Way is visible. You can also capture Star Trails.

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the Milky Way and Star Trails in your location (section 14).

11.October 2019 celestial events, one by one

Comet C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy). Nikon D700 | 85mm | f/1.4 | 6s | ISO 6400 | 4000K | 20 photos stacked

October is here. It’s a month of transition and changes in both hemispheres.

After the September equinox, the different parts of the world are gradually changing seasons. In the Northern Hemisphere, first comes fall and then winter. Conversely, in the Southern Hemisphere first comes spring and then summer.

So light is decreasing in some parts of the world while increasing in others.

October is a month with two very interesting Meteor Showers: the Draconids and the Orionids... Although in 2019, the Moon doesn’t allow you to enjoy the show as you would like.

At the beginning of October you can still capture the zodiacal light. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s visible to the east, before the morning astronomical twilight, in the direction of sunrise. On the other hand, in the Southern Hemisphere it’s visible to the west, at the end of the afternoon astronomical twilight, in the direction of sunset.

You may also see the comet C/2018 W2 (Africano), which can reach a magnitude of between 9 and 10 by the end of September near the Aquarius and Piscis Austranius constellations. So it’s visible from both hemispheres.

And finally, hurry up! This is the second-to-last month in which you can photograph the Galactic Center of the Milky Way above the horizon. When the season is over you’ll have to wait 2-3 months before you can do it again.

Although you can always capture Star Trails! ;)

But above all, don’t miss…

  • The Full Moon on October 13 is always an opportunity to get a spectacular image.
  • On October 20 you can photograph Mercury at greatest east elongation.
  • Take advantage of the New Moon week (October 28) to capture the Galactic Center of the Milky Way shining in the sky.
  • On October 28 you can photograph Uranus at opposition. It’s at its closest approach to Earth and its visible face is completely illuminated by the Sun at a magnitude of 5.7.

Here you have the complete list of the most important celestial events happening in October 2019.

October 3: Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter.

Jupiter passes at 1.5º south of the Moon at 20:23 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -11.4, and Jupiter at a magnitude of -2.0. At this time the Moon phase is 31.5%.

October 13: Full Moon.

The Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth so the Sun illuminates it completely. Full Moon is at 21:09 UTC.

Full Moon days are perfect for photographing it with an interesting subject. Get the most out of the Full Moon with this article.

October 20: Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation.

When Mercury reaches its greatest elongation at 00:41 UTC, it’s located 24º east of the Sun, and it's shining at a magnitude of -0.1.

Mercury's orbit is closer to the Sun than that of the Earth, which means that it always appears close to the Sun and is faded because of the Sun's brightness most of the time. You can only observe it for a few days each time it reaches its greatest separation from the Sun (greatest elongation).

This phenomenon repeats itself approximately once every 3-4 months and occurs alternately during the morning or afternoon, depending on whether Mercury is to the east or west of the Sun.

When it’s located east of the Sun, it rises and sets just after the Sun, and it’s visible during the sunset. The best time to photograph Mercury is shortly after sunset.

October 21-22: Orionids Meteor Shower.

The Meteor Shower runs from October 2 to November 17.

But the best night for photographing it is the one between October 21 and 22. The peak is on October 21 at 23:26 UTC with 20 meteors per hour. At this time the Moon phase is 45.1%, so the conditions to enjoy it are moderate (there is some moonlight).

This Meteor Shower is visible and intense in both hemispheres.

You have all the information you need in our Meteor Showers guide.

October 28: New Moon.

The Moon is between the Earth and the Sun, so the bright side of the Moon is facing away from the Earth. The Moon phase is 0% at 03:40 UTC.

The days around New Moon are great for photographing the night sky. In October the Galactic Center of the Milky Way is visible. You can also capture Star Trails.

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the Milky Way and Star Trails in your location (section 14).

October 28: Uranus at opposition.

At 08:02 UTC, Uranus is at its closest approach to Earth and its visible face is completely illuminated by the Sun at a magnitude of 5.7.

It’s brighter than at any other time of the year and is visible throughout the night. This is the best time to observe and photograph Uranus.

However, even being at its closest approach to the Earth, you can only distinguish Uranus as a star-shaped spot of light with the naked eye. Use a telescope to see the planet.

October 29: Conjunction of the Moon and Venus.

Venus passes at 3.5º south of the Moon at 13:33 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -8.9, and Venus at a magnitude of -3.9. At this time the Moon phase is 2.9%.

October 31: Conjunction of Mercury and Venus.

Mercury passes at 2.4º south of Venus at 08:09 UTC. Mercury is at a magnitude of 0.3, and Venus at a magnitude of 1.8. At this time the Moon phase is 2.9%.

October 31: Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter.

Jupiter passes at 1.2º south of the Moon at 14:23 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -10.6, and Jupiter at a magnitude of -3.9. At this time the Moon phase is 14.9%.

12.November 2019 celestial events, one by one

Nikon 300 | 500mm | f/8 | 100s | ISO 200 | 4500K

As I’ve already told you, November is the last month in which you can photograph the Galactic Center of the Milky Way.

So you have to take advantage of its reduced visibility time. Another option is to focus on other types of images, such as creating Star Trails.

Unfortunately, the Leonids are relatively weak (15 meteors per hour) and the Moon is not helping as well (45.1%).

But most importantly, don’t miss…

  • On November 2 you can photograph the conjunction of the Moon and Saturn. And depending on where you are on the planet, you can photograph the occultation of Saturn by the Moon.
  • The transit of Mercury across the Sun on November 11, a rare and hard to photograph spectacle but worth living.
  • The Full Moon on November 12 is always an opportunity to get a spectacular image.
  • On November 28 you can photograph the conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter. And depending on where you are on the planet, you can photograph the occultation of Jupiter by the Moon.

Here you have the complete list of the most important celestial events happening in November 2019.

November 2: Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn (also occultation).

Saturn passes at 0.4º north of the Moon at 07:22 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -11.3, and Saturn at a magnitude of 0.4. At this time the Moon phase is 29.7%.

In addition to this, Saturn goes behind the Moon on what’s called an occultation. The occultation is visible in New Zealand. Check this world map where you can see where the occultation is visible and at what times.

November 11: Transit of Mercury across the Sun.

From 12:35 to 18:04 UTC, Mercury passes between the Earth and the Sun, casting its shadow on the solar surface. This event is very rare and occurs once every many years. Mercury's next solar transit will not take place until November 13, 2032.

If you want to observe and photograph this spectacle, make sure you have a telescope, a solar filter and a pair of solar eclipse glasses.

This transit fully is visible, from start to finish, throughout South America, Central America, eastern USA and western Africa. In Canada, Mexico, the rest of the USA, most of Europe, the Middle East, New Zealand and the rest of Africa only part of the transit is visible, as the beginning or end of the transit occurs before sunrise or after sunset.

Have a look at the visibility map, local times and other details of the transit of Mercury across the Sun.

November 12: Full Moon.

The Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth so the Sun illuminates it completely. Full Moon is at 13:36 UTC.

Full Moon days are perfect for photographing it with an interesting subject. Get the most out of the Full Moon with this article.

November 17-18: Leonids Meteor Shower.

The Meteor Shower runs from November 6 to 30.

But the best night for photographing it is the one between November 17 and 18. The peak is on November 18 at 04:46 UTC with 15 meteors per hour. At this time the Moon phase is 78.2%, so the conditions to enjoy it are not good (there is a lot of moonlight).

This Meteor Shower is visible and intense in both hemispheres.

You have all the information you need in our Meteor Showers guide.

November 24: Conjunction of the Moon and Mars.

Mars passes at 4.2º south of the Moon at 09:03 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -9.9, and Mars at a magnitude of 1.7. At this time the Moon phase is 6.8%.

November 24: Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter.

Venus passes at 1.2º south of Jupiter at 14:01 UTC. Venus is at a magnitude of -3.9, and Jupiter at a magnitude of -1.9. At this time the Moon phase is 1.6%.

November 25: Conjunction of the Moon and Mercury.

Mercury passes at 1.5º south of the Moon at 02:51 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -9.0, and Mercury at a magnitude of -0.4. At this time the Moon phase is 3.2%.

November 26: New Moon.

The Moon is between the Earth and the Sun, so the bright side of the Moon is facing away from the Earth. The Moon phase is 0% at 15:07 UTC.

The days around New Moon are great for photographing the night sky. In November the Galactic Center of the Milky Way is visible during a shorter period of time. You can also capture Star Trails.

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the Milky Way and Star Trails in your location (section 14).

November 28: Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter (also occultation).

Jupiter passes at 0.4º north of the Moon at 10:51 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -9.2, and Jupiter at a magnitude of 1.8. At this time the Moon phase is 3.9%.

In addition to this, Jupiter goes behind the Moon on what’s called an occultation. The occultation is visible in north Africa, Europe, the Middle East and western Asia. Check this world map where you can see where the occultation is visible and at what times.

November 28: Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation.

When Mercury reaches its greatest elongation at 12:18 UTC, it’s located 20º west of the Sun, and it's shining at a magnitude of -0.6.

Mercury's orbit is closer to the Sun than that of the Earth, which means that it always appears close to the Sun and is faded because of the Sun's brightness most of the time. You can only observe it for a few days each time it reaches its greatest separation from the Sun (greatest elongation).

This phenomenon repeats itself approximately once every 3-4 months and occurs alternately during the morning or afternoon, depending on whether Mercury is to the east or west of the Sun.

When it’s located west of the Sun, it rises and sets just before the Sun, and it’s visible before the sunrise. The best time to photograph Mercury is shortly before sunrise.

November 28: Conjunction of the Moon and Venus.

Venus passes at 1.5º south of the Moon at 18:50 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -9.6, and Venus at a magnitude of -3.9. At this time the Moon phase is 11.4%.

November 29: Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn.

Saturn passes at 0.6º north of the Moon at 21:04 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -10.4, and Saturn at a magnitude of 0.4. At this time the Moon phase is 12.0%.

13.December 2019 celestial events, one by one

Nikon D4s | 500mm | f/8 | 1/50s | ISO 800 | 2850K

In December you can’t photograph the Galactic Center of the Milky Way, so you have to do your best with the thinnest part of the arch of our galaxy. At this time of year the Galactic Center is above the horizon when it is daylight.

As for the Geminids, they are usually very intense (120 meteors per hour) producing a spectacular Meteor Shower. The problem this year is that the Moonphase that night is 92.3% and with so much light, it’s very hard to photograph this event.

But don't be discouraged because this month brings other photographic opportunities that are worthwhile. Also, don't forget about Star Trails because it's a type of astrophotography that you can practice all year round.

You may also see the comet C/2017 T2 (PANSTARRS) in the Northern Hemisphere, which can reach a magnitude of between 9 and 10 during December near the Perseus constellation. If you want, you can check the comet's path.

But above all, don’t miss…

  • The Full Moon on December 12 is always an opportunity to get a spectacular image.
  • On the night of December 22-23, the peak of the Ursids Meteor Shower occurs.
  • The annular solar eclipse on December 26 is the perfect opportunity to photograph a moment that rarely happens (the next one will be on June 21, 2020). Are you going to miss it?
  • On December 29 you can photograph the conjunction of the Moon and Venus. And depending on where you are on the planet, you can photograph the occultation of Venus by the Moon.

Here you have the complete list of the most important celestial events happening in December 2019.

December 12: Full Moon.

It's time to enjoy the last Full Moon of the year!

The Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth so the Sun illuminates it completely. Full Moon is at 05:13 UTC.

Full Moon days are perfect for photographing it with an interesting subject. Get the most out of the Full Moon with this article.

December 14-15: Geminids Meteor Shower.

The Meteor Shower runs from December 4 to 17.

But the best night for photographing it is the one between December 14 and 15. The peak is on December 14 at 18:39 UTC with 120 meteors per hour. At this time the Moon phase is 92.3%, so the conditions to enjoy it are not good (there is a lot of moonlight).

This Meteor Shower is visible in both hemispheres, although it’s weaker in the Southern Hemisphere.

You have all the information you need in our Meteor Showers guide.

December 21: December solstice.

The December solstice is at 04:05 UTC. This is also the first winter day (winter solstice) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first summer day (summer solstice) in the Southern Hemisphere.

December 21-22: Ursids Meteor Shower.

The Meteor Shower runs from December 17 to 26.

But the best night for photographing it is the one between December 22 and 23. The peak is on December 23 at 03:04 UTC with 10 meteors per hour. At this time the Moon phase is 11.1%, so the conditions to enjoy it are good (there is no moonlight).

This Meteor Shower is visible in both hemispheres, although it’s weaker in the Southern Hemisphere.

You have all the information you need in our Meteor Shower guide.

December 23: Conjunction of the Moon and Mars.

Mars passes at 3.3º south of the Moon at 01:50 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -10.4, and Mars at a magnitude of 1.6. At this time the Moon phase is 11.5%.

December 26: New Moon.

The Moon is between the Earth and the Sun, so the bright side of the Moon is facing away from the Earth. The Moon phase is 0% at 03:40 UTC.

The days around New Moon are great for photographing the night sky and Star Trails. In December the Galactic Center of the Milky Way is no longer visible, but you can photograph is the thinnest part of the arch of our galaxy.

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the Milky Way and Star Trails in your location (section 14).

December 26: Annular Solar Eclipse.

The Moon passes in front of the Sun, creating an annular solar eclipse from 02:29 to 08:05 UTC. The maximum annular eclipse occurs at 05:17 UTC.

The annular solar eclipse is visible in areas of Saudi Arabia, southern India, northern Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Singapore, Guam and parts of the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.

Use PhotoPills to learn more about the annular solar eclipse at your location (section 14).

December 29: Conjunction of the Moon and Venus (also occultation).

Venus passes at 1.0º north of the Moon at 01:33 UTC. The Moon is at a magnitude of -9.9, and Venus at a magnitude of -4.0. At this time the Moon phase is 8.4%.

In addition to this, Venus goes behind the Moon on what’s called an occultation. The occultation is visible in the south of South America. Check this world map where you can see where the occultation is visible and at what times.

And now that you know everything (absolutely everything!) that will happen in 2019 from an astronomical point of view, it’s time to...

You’ve guessed it!

It's time to plan one (or more) astronomical highlights of 2019.

14.How to plan the best 2019 astronomical events

Imagine. Plan. Shoot!

That's what we PhotoPillers say (photography and PhotoPills freaks)...

We even designed a t-shirt so we don't forget it :P

And as expected, this workflow is the backbone of this guide.

With the help of the calendar, you chose the astronomical event you want to photograph... And you have let your imagination run wild, trying to create in your mind a great picture (a legendary one if possible).

Well, the time has come to go from the idea to reality, to check that the photo you dream of is possible!

And to find out the exact shooting spot and the exact moment the photo happens.

It's time to plan the photo :)

And to do so, the best thing is to use PhotoPills, a tool that you can easily master reading the super user guide and watching these video tutorials :P

Are you ready?

How to plan your Milky Way pictures (including the Galactic Center!)

Photographing the Milky Way is magical.

But if you manage to do it in the way and the location you want, the result is even more rewarding. That's why planning is so important.

But before we start, remember that,

  • The Milky Way is visible every night. What's not visible every night is its center, the brightest part of our galaxy. That's why I always say that there is a Galactic Center hunting season.
  • In many parts of the world the Galactic Center begins to be visible at the end of January and becomes invisible in November.

To plan the Milky Way in a location that I’m interested in, I use the PhotoPills Planner to work on the different compositions that I can get during each of the New Moons of the year.

Although it's a few years old, this video is still valid. Here Rafa explains to you step by step the whole workflow that we follow. In addition to this, at the end of this section I have added a link to a more recent video detailing another example of Milky Way planning.

Did you like the video?

Yes?

Great!

Now let’s dive in a little more into the wonderful world of Milky Way planning with another example :)

PhotoPills Planner - The Red Pin is placed in Nambung National Park (Australia). The Milky Way arch is displayed on the map (white dotted arch). Above the map you see Panel 7, which shows the Galactic Center visibility times for the selected date.
PhotoPills Planner - Now you see Panel 8 above the map. The icon tells you the inclination of the Milky Way arch in the sky. The blue energy bar is linked to the Moon phase. When full, it means it’s New Moon. And when it is empty, it’s Full Moon. You also have the position (azimuth and elevation) of the Galactic Center and the highest point of the Milky Way arch.
  • Look for a location with no light pollution and an interesting subject. Imagine you are in Nambung National Park (Australia) to photograph some rock formations known as the Pinnacles along with the Milky Way arch.
  • Open PhotoPills, tap Planner (Pills Menu) and then place the Red Pin right in the location where you want to plan the photo. If you don't know how to do it, this video shows you how to move the Red Pin.
  • Now, on the Planner, make sure you have the Moon and Milky Way map layers turned on. Tap on the Map settings button, it’s on the map, next to the (+) button.
  • On the Map settings screen, check that the eye icon on the Moon and Milky Way map layers is not crossed out. If it is, tap on it to turn the layer on. Tap OK (upper right corner) in iOS or the arrow to go back in Android. If you want to have a cleaner view on the Planner, you can turn off the rest of the layers (tap on the eye icon to cross it out).
  • Swipe the top panels to the left until you find the two Milky Way information panels (Panel 7 and Panel 8).
  • The Panel 7 indicates when the Galactic Center becomes visible or not and the light grey line shows the direction in which it shows up.
  • Take into account the Moon phase. It’s easier to photograph the Milky Way if you avoid any light source. So try to plan your session during the New Moon day and the 4 days before and after.
  • Tap on the center of the Time Bar twice to set the current date and time. Then, tap on the Milky Way icon on Panel 8. The date will jump to the next New Moon.
  • Now it's time to play with the Time Bar and the Milky Way layer to see if you can capture the Milky Way slightly above the horizon, forming a nice diagonal or completely vertical. Swipe the time forwards (to the left) or backwards (to the right) until the white dotted arch is where you want it to be in the sky. Then, adjust the position of the Red Pin depending on the composition you want.
  • Tap on the RA Night button to check the position of the Milky Way and the Galactic Center. You can also use Panel 8 to check the inclination angle of the Milky Way and the height of the energy bar: the higher and bluer, the more visible the Milky Way is (less impact of the Moon).
  • If the composition you’re looking for is not possible on the date you’re planning, skip to the next New Moon and repeat the process until you find the photo you want!
  • From the planning result you’ll get the shooting spot (the position of the Red Pin) and the date and time of shooting (shown in the Time Bar) allowing you to capture the photo you want.

And that's it!

If you follow these steps, you can easily plan any Milky Way photo you want.

You’ll be finally able to make that dream come true.

Anyway, if you need a more detailed explanation, you can read the planning section in the Milky Way guide.

Or if you prefer, you can see Rafa's explanation using a real case: the Milky Way arching over the Vingerklip (Namibia).

How to plan your Full Moon (and Supermoon!) pictures

Would you like to photograph the next Full Moon? Or better yet... the next Supermoon!

But you don't know what to do to get the photo you've been dreaming about for days.

Don't worry!

I’m here to help you with the planning using a spectacular example ;)

But first, you should watch the following video:

Here’s another example of all the steps you should follow to plan a Supermoon :P

PhotoPills Moon - Moon calendar where yellow circles show the Supermoons.
PhotoPills Planner - Supermoon planning for March 21, 2019. The center of the Moon will be aligned with the roof of Torre Sevilla at 21:04 and will have a diameter of 13m. The Red Pin shows the shooting spot and the Black Pin shows the Torre Sevilla position. The thin blue line shows the position of the Moon for the selected time.
  • Choose a location with a special scenery, that has an interesting subject and where you can move around easily.
  • In this case, I want one of the 2019 Supermoons to be behind Torre Sevilla, the tallest skyscraper in Seville (Spain).
  • Tap Planner (Pills Menu) and then place the Red Pin near Torre Sevilla. If you don't know how to do it, this video shows you how to move the Red Pin.
  • Now let's find out the 2019 Supermoon dates. Exit the Planner tapping Back and then tap Moon (Pills Menu). Tap on the Calendar button. Supermoons have a yellow circle around them. Tap, for example, on the March 21, 2019 Supermoon. On the Moon screen, press the Action button (bottom right) and select Send to planner. The Supermoon date will be set on the Planner.
  • On the Planner, zoom in on the map until you have enlarged the rooftop of Torre Sevilla as much as possible. Swipe the top panels to the right until you find the Black Pin information panel (Panel 2). Tap on the Red Pin and the Black Pin icon to turn on the Black Pin on the map. Drag the Black Pin to place it in the middle of Torre Sevilla’s rooftop.
  • It's time to determine the shooting spot from which the Moon will have the size you want compared to the subject (Torre Sevilla). Imagine you want it to be 13 meters.
  • Tap on the Map settings button. It’s on the map, next to the (+) button.
  • On the Map settings screen, in the Map Tools section, tap on the Sun/Moon button. Tap OK (upper right corner) in iOS or the arrow to go back in Android.
  • On the map, you can now see a grey circle. It tells you the shooting distance you need. Also, in the top box that just appeared, type the size you want the Moon to have (13 meters). The circle diameter changes according to the size you enter.
  • Place the Red Pin on the grey circumference, so that the Moonrise line (thick light blue) or the Moonset line (thick dark blue) is not too far from the Black Pin. So, when the Moon rises or sets, it goes over your subject.
  • Now, you have to take into account the Moon’s elevation relative to Torre Sevilla. The building measures 180.5 metres. So it may be interesting that the Moon touches the top of the building or is even slightly below it. And that it’s always aligned, of course.
  • Look at the Panel 2, it displays the Moon’s elevation relative to the Black Pin. So you need to find out at what time the Moon’s elevation will be about 179 or 180 meters above the Black Pin. Move the Time Bar around Moonrise time until you find it.
  • Now, adjust the position of the Red Pin on the grey circumference, taking into account the direction in which the Moon will move, so that the white dotted line (between the Red Pin and the Black Pin) and the thin blue line (direction of the Moon) match.
  • While moving the Red Pin, the topography may have changed, so check the Moon’s elevation over the Black Pin in Panel 2.
  • If it hasn't changed, great, your planning job is done. Otherwise, repeat the process.

And that's it!

Now you know exactly where the shooting spot is and when you have to be there (date and time).

Of all the plans, Moon ones require you to work a bit harder while being accurate.

If this explanation is not enough and you need more details, read the article 'How to plan the next Full Moon' and understand why the shooting spot determines the size of the Moon relative to the size of the subject.

And if you already know the shooting spot and want to quickly find out when the Moon will be where you want it, use the Search option. In this article Rafa explains how to do it: 'How to find Moonrises and Moonsets'.

How to plan your Meteor Showers pictures

When you're planning any Meteor Shower picture, there's one element you need to consider: the radiant.

The radiant is a point in the sky from which meteors seem to radiate. Or, if you prefer, sprout XD.

Each radiant is located in the constellation that gives its name to the Meteor Shower. For example, the Perseids radiant is located in the Perseus constellation.

Our Meteor Showers guide let you know the radiants of the most spectacular Meteor Showers. Here’s a video in which Rafa teaches you how to locate the radiant in the sky with PhotoPills:

Even though you don't have to include the radiant in your composition, I like to do it because the effect you get is spectacular.

So let's see how to plan your photo, including how to locate the radiant in the sky. To do that, let's take the Quadrantids for example.

  • Choose a location you’re familiar with that has little light pollution.
  • When the Meteor Shower peak day arrives, go to the location and explore the surroundings to select one or more shooting spots. Imagine you are in Cala Pregonda, in Menorca (Spain).
  • Now, position yourself at the shooting spot.
  • Once there, open PhotoPills, tap Planner (Pills Menu) and then place the Red Pin right where you are. If you don't know how to do it, this video shows you how to move the Red Pin.
  • Thanks to the Meteor Showers guide you know that:
    • The peak of the Quadrantids is on January 4, 2019 at 02:23 UTC.
    • The Moon phase is 3.7% (the next New Moon is on January 6 at 01:29 UTC). So the conditions to take the photo are excellent.
    • The radiant coordinates are: right ascension 15h 28m and declination +49,5º.
  • Now, let's see how you can locate the Quadrantids radiant in the sky.
  • On the Planner, select the date (04/01/2019) and time (03:32) in the Time Bar. The time zone in Menorca (Spain) is GMT+1, so if UTC is equivalent to GMT, you have to add 1 hour.
  • Tap the RA Night button to find the right ascension and declination. It's very easy, Rafa explains it to you in this video.
  • But, throughout the night, the radiant moves across the sky. To see how it moves, drag your finger from right to left to move time forwards.
  • This way, you can know exactly where to frame so that the radiant is always in your photos throughout the session.

If you want to know more about Meteor Showers and the mysterious radiant, take a look at the Meteor Showers guide that we publish every year.

How to plan your lunar eclipse pictures

The best way to learn how to plan lunar eclipses is to use an example.

And what better example than the total lunar eclipse of January 21, 2019? ;)

In the following video you’ll learn how to plan the total lunar eclipse of January 21, 2019 with the pyramids of Egypt ;)

Let's see another example... this time in Atlanta (USA)!

PhotoPills Planner - Eclipse calendar where you can select the eclipse you want to plan.
PhotoPills Planner - Eclipse information on the map and top panels. It’s very easy to visualize where you can photograph all the phases of the eclipse (or the phases you’ll be able to see) from the Red Pin position.

Let’s get to work…

  • The first thing you have to do is to select the eclipse you want to plan (and photograph). In this case, the total lunar eclipse of January 21, 2019.
  • To do this, open PhotoPills, tap Planner (Pills Menu) and then tap the Map settings button, it’s on the map, next to the (+) button.
  • On the Map settings screen, tap the little arrow to the right of the Eclipse layer to go to the eclipse calendar.
  • In the calendar, tap the 01/21/19 eclipse to select it.
  • On the Map settings screen, make sure you have the Eclipse layer turned on (the eye icon doesn't have to be crossed out). If it is, tap it to activate the layer. Tap OK (upper right corner) in iOS or the arrow to go back in Android. If you want to have a cleaner view on the Planner, you can turn off the rest of the layers (tap the eye icon to cross it out).
  • On the map, zoom out to see at a glance in which areas of the world the eclipse will be visible.
  • You know that, if you are going to photograph a total lunar eclipse, you should go to a location from where you can see (and photograph) the total eclipse or the maximum partial eclipse...
  • To find out where you need to go, look at the visibility zones you see on the map. Place the Red Pin in a location within the area where the eclipse is visible, for example in Atlanta (USA). If you don't know how, this video shows you how to move the Red Pin.
  • Swipe the panels on the map to the left until you find the two eclipse information panels (Panel 9 and Panel 10).
  • Panel 10 displays which phases are visible at the Red Pin position. Keeping this panel visible, move the Red Pin wherever you want to quickly find out which phases will be visible and when.
  • According to the panel and taking into account the Red Pin position, the January 21, 2019 eclipse begins at 21:37.
  • Now you need to know the direction to which you need to point your camera to. Look at the map, the thin blue line coming out of the Red Pin tells you the Moon direction for the date and time selected in the Time Bar. And you know that the the eclipse starts at 21:37.
  • If you press the eclipse icon on Panel 10, you’ll jump from phase to phase. The Time Bar will go forwards and the thin blue line will move.
  • You also need to know the Moon's elevation. To do this, swipe the top panels to the right until you find the Sun/Moon position (azimuth and elevation) panel (Panel 3).
  • According to Panel 3, the Moon will have an elevation of 46.45º at the beginning of the eclipse (21:37). And its azimuth will be exactly 95.8º.
  • Once you’re in the location, use the PhotoPills Augmented Reality view to check the exact position of the Moon and its path.

This is how you can plan the total lunar eclipse of January 21, 2019. If you follow these simple steps you will be able to plan (almost) any lunar eclipse photo you can imagine...

If you want to learn much more about how to plan your own photos of a lunar eclipse, take a look at the lunar eclipses guide.

How to plan your solar eclipse pictures

To learn how to plan the eclipses of the Sun it is best to use a real example.

And what better example than the total solar eclipse of July 2, 2019? ;)

PhotoPills Planner - Eclipse calendar where you can select the eclipse you want to plan.
PhotoPills Planner - Eclipse information on the map and top panels. It’s very easy to visualize where you can photograph all the phases of the eclipse (path of totality) or the phases you’ll be able to see from the Red Pin position.

Come on, let's get to it…

  • The first thing you have to do is to select the eclipse you want to plan (and photograph). In this case, the total solar eclipse of July 2, 2019.
  • To do this, open PhotoPills, tap Planner (Pills Menu) and then tap the Map settings button, it’s on the map, next to the (+) button.
  • On the Map settings screen, tap the little arrow to the right of the Eclipse layer to go to the eclipse calendar.
  • In the calendar, tap the 07/02/19 eclipse to select it.
  • On the Map settings screen, make sure you have the Eclipse layer turned on (the eye icon doesn't have to be crossed out). If it is, tap it to activate the layer. Tap OK (upper right corner) in iOS or the arrow to go back in Android. If you want to have a cleaner view on the Planner, you can turn off the rest of the layers (tap the eye icon to cross it out).
  • On the map, zoom out to see at a glance in which areas of the world the eclipse will be visible.
  • You know that, if you are going to photograph a total solar eclipse, you should go to a location within the path of totality from where you can see (and photograph) the total solar eclipse.
  • To find out where you need to go, look at the dark central band you see on the map. Place the Red Pin in a location within the path of totality, for example along the blue line near La Higuera (Chile). If you don't know how, this video shows you how to move the Red Pin.
  • Swipe the panels on the map to the left until you find the two eclipse information panels (Panel 9 and Panel 10).
  • Panel 10 displays which phases are visible at the Red Pin position. Keeping this panel visible, move the Red Pin wherever you want to quickly find out which phases will be visible and when.
  • According to the panel and taking into account the Red Pin position, the July 21, 2019 eclipse begins at 15:23.
  • Now you need to know the direction to which you need to point your camera to. Look at the map, the thin orange line coming out of the Red Pin tells you the Sun direction for the date and time selected in the Time Bar. And you know that the the eclipse starts at 15:23.
  • If you press the eclipse icon on Panel 10, you’ll jump from phase to phase. The Time Bar will go forwards and the thin orange line will move.
  • You also need to know the Sun's elevation. To do this, swipe the top panels to the right until you find the Sun/Moon position (azimuth and elevation) panel (Panel 3).
  • According to Panel 3, the Sun will have an elevation of 25.77º at the beginning of the eclipse (15:23). And its azimuth will be exactly 320.5º.
  • Once you’re in the location, use the PhotoPills Augmented Reality view to check the exact position of the Sun and its path.

This is how you can plan the total solar eclipse of July 2, 2019. If you follow these simple steps you will be able to plan (almost) any solar eclipse photo that you imagine...

If you want to learn in much more detail how to plan your own photos of a solar eclipse, take a look at the solar eclipses guide.

And although it’s a bit old, you can also watch the video in which Rafa plans the total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 ;)

How to plan your Star Trails pictures

Planning a picture of Star Trails is very (very) easy. Seriously!

You don't believe me?

Ok, let me prove it...

Take a look at this video:

And here is the whole workflow step by step:

  • Choose a location you’re familiar with that has little light pollution.
  • During daytime, go to the location and explore the surroundings to select one or more shooting spots.
  • Now, position yourself at the shooting spot.
  • Once there, open PhotoPills, tap Planner (Pills Menu) and then place the Red Pin right where you are. If you don't know how to do it, this video shows you how to move the Red Pin.
  • Choose a night near the New Moon. This will prevent the moonlight from influencing the exposure of your photos.
  • Exit the Planner tapping Back and then tap Moon (Pills Menu). Tap on the Calendar button. Tap the next New Moon. On the Moon screen, press the Action button (bottom right) and select Send to planner.
  • Tap the RA Night button to find the Polaris, the celestial equator and any potential Star Trails patterns. Depending on the shooting direction, you will get one pattern or another.

If you're an advanced PhotoPiller, you can also choose to plan it from home. It's a little more work but it’s not hard at all.

You can read everything about how to plan a Star Trails photo in the Star Trails guide.

How to plan your Moon-planet conjunction pictures

The conjunction between a planet and the Moon occurs when you have the impression that they are very close to each other while observing them from the Earth.

This phenomenon occurs because both stars are in the same celestial longitude. But because they’re not at the same celestial latitude you suffer the optical illusion that they’re close to each other.

Throughout 2019 there are many conjunctions between a planet and the Moon. You can find details of each one of them in this guide's monthly calendar.

If you to want to photograph one of them, you should plan it first. It will help you know all the information you need to take the picture.

And to explain how you can plan this type of photos, the best thing is to use an example. So I'm going to focus on a conjunction that occurs on May 20, 2019 at 16:54 UTC between Jupiter and the Moon.

Since the Moon is involved in the conjunction, let's find out where the Moon will be on the day and time of the conjunction.

Let's look at this example...

PhotoPills Planner - Red Pin placed in Durban (South Africa) the day and time of the Jupiter and Moon conjunction (May 20, 2019 at 16:54 UTC or 18:54 local time). On the map, the thin blue line shows the direction of the Moon. Panel 3 shows the Moon elevation.
PhotoPills Planner - On the map, the thin blue line shows the direction of the Moon at 20:00 local time on the same day. Panel 3 shows the Moon elevation.
  • Open PhotoPills, tap Planner (Pills Menu) and then place the Red Pin in one of the areas where the Jupiter-Moon conjunction is visible. In this example, I’m going to put it in Durban (South Africa). If you don't know how to do it, this video shows you how to move the Red Pin.
  • Now, on the Planner, make sure you have the Moon and Twilights map layers turned on. Tap on the Map settings button, it’s on the map, next to the (+) button.
  • On the Map settings screen, check that the eye icon on the Moon and Twilights map layers is not crossed out. If it is, tap on it to turn the layer on. Tap OK (upper right corner) in iOS or the arrow to go back in Android. If you want to have a cleaner view on the Planner, you can turn off the rest of the layers (tap on the eye icon to cross it out).
  • Durban is in the GMT+2 time zone, so the May 20, 2019 conjunction occurs at 18:54. This is the exact moment when the Moon and the planet are on the same celestial longitude, but a few hours before and a few hours after they will still be very close.
  • On the Planner, tap the clock below the Time Bar. On the Date and time screen, tap Date and set May 20, 2019. Tap Time and set 18:54. Tap OK (upper right corner) in iOS or the arrow to go back in Android.
  • If you’re stuck with UTC times, you can always move the Red Pin to Iceland, change the time using UTC time (Iceland is always in the GMT+0 time zone and doesn’t apply Daylight Save Time), and then move the Red Pin back to your location. The time will be automatically converted to local time.
  • Swipe the top panels to the left until you find the two Sun and Moon information panels (Panel 3 and Panel 4).
  • According to Panel 4, the Moon rises at 18:38 so it will be above the horizon when the conjunction occurs.
  • Moreover, Panel 3 tells you that at that time (18:54) it will have an elevation of 2.45º. That is, relatively close to the horizon.
  • If you move time forwards, to 20:00 for example, by swiping the Time Bar to the left, you’ll see how the thin blue line moves. It shows you the Moon direction.
  • At the same time, on Panel 4 you can see that the Moon elevation will be 15.56º, so it won’t be very high in the sky. The Moon phase is 96% so it will appear almost completely round in your photo.
  • Moreover, tap the RA button to use the Augmented Reality view and check in situ the position in which the Moon will be at all times during the conjunction. Remember that if in the Augmented Reality view you use your thumb to press and swipe to the left, you move time forwards and the Moon moves ;)
  • If at the exact time of the conjunction the Moon is below the horizon, you can move the Time Bar forwards or backwards until it’s above the horizon.
    • If the event occurs before the Moonrise, move time forwards until the Moon rises.
    • If the event occurs after the Moonset, move time backwards until the Moon sets.
  • In a conjunction, the planet and the Moon are close for several hours, so if you look for the closest instant to the conjunction, but having the Moon above the horizon, you can also capture both the Moon and the planet very close one from another. A good time to photograph a conjunction is during twilight, for example :)

See how easy that is?

Being able to use the Moon as a reference makes the process much easier ;)

How to plan your pictures of a conjunction of planets or planet conjunction with a Deep-Sky Object (DSO)

Unfortunately, PhotoPills doesn’t have information about planets yet.

But you can use a free program called Stellarium to plan your photos before a conjunction of planets occurs.

How to plan your comet pictures

In the previous section I have recommended you Stellarium, a free program to make simulations of the celestial vault. You can observe all kinds of celestial bodies and astronomical objects: planets, satellites, asteroids, meteors and comets, among others.

Therefore, I recommend that you install it on your computer and look for the comet you want to photograph. Stellarium will give you the date and time when that particular comet will be visible (or not).

Here’s a complete tutorial for you to set up Stellarium and search for comets.

How to plan your pictures of a planet transit across the Sun

The transit of a planet across the Sun occurs when the planet passes between the Earth and the Sun, casting its shadow on the solar surface.

In fact, only the Venus and Mercury transits can be observed from the Earth. So it’s a very rare event that occurs once every many years.

Next November 11, Mercury will transit across the Sun. Will you be able to photograph it?

Let's find it out planning it!

But before we start, a couple of facts:

  • The Mercury transit across the Sun occurs from 12:35 to 18:04 UTC.
  • This transit is completely visible, from start to finish, in South America, Central America, eastern U.S. and western Africa. In Canada, Mexico, the rest of the U.S., most of Europe, the Middle East, New Zealand and the rest of Africa only a portion of the transit will be visible, as the beginning or end of the transit will occur before sunrise or after sunset.

And now, it’s time to plan.

PhotoPills Planner - Red Pin placed in Miami Beach on the day and time of the beginning of the Mercury transit across the Sun on November 11, 2019 at 07:35 local time (02:35 UTC). On the map, the thin yellow line shows the direction of the Sun. Panel 3 shows the Sun elevation.
PhotoPills Planner - On the map, the thin yellow line shows the Sun direction at 13:04 local time (18:04 UTC) on the same day, when the transit ends. Panel 3 shows the Sun elevation.
  • Open PhotoPills, tap Planner (Pills Menu) and then place the Red Pin in one of the areas where the whole transit is visible. In this example, I’m going to put it in Miami (USA). If you don't know how to do it, this video shows you how to move the Red Pin.
  • Now, on the Planner, make sure you have the Sun and Twilights map layers turned on. Tap on the Map settings button, it’s on the map, next to the (+) button.
  • On the Map settings screen, check that the eye icon on the Sun and Twilights map layers is not crossed out. If it is, tap on it to turn the layer on. Tap OK (upper right corner) in iOS or the arrow to go back in Android. If you want to have a cleaner view on the Planner, you can turn off the rest of the layers (tap on the eye icon to cross it out).
  • Miami is in the GMT-5 time zone, so the November 11, 2019 transit begins at 07:35 and ends at 13:04.
  • On the Planner, tap the clock below the Time Bar. On the Date and time screen, tap Date and set November 11, 2019. Tap Time and set 07:35. Tap OK (upper right corner) in iOS or the arrow to go back in Android.
  • Swipe the top panels to the left until you find the two Sun and Moon information panels (Panel 3 and Panel 4).
  • According to Panel 4, the Sun rises at 06:35 so it will be above the horizon when the transit begins.
  • Moreover, Panel 3 tells you that at that time (07:35) it will have an elevation of 11.67º. That is, relatively close to the horizon.
  • If you move time forwards, to 13:04, by swiping the Time Bar to the left, you’ll see how the thin yellow line moves. It shows you the Sun direction. At that time its elevation will be 44.40º.
  • Moreover, tap the RA button to use the Augmented Reality view and check in situ the position in which the Sun will be at all times during the conjunction. Remember that if in the Augmented Reality view you use your thumb to press and swipe to the left, you move time forwards and the Sun moves ;)

As you can see, it’s very easy to check from where, when and in which direction you have to frame to capture the transit of a planet across the Sun.

PhotoPills rocks!

How to plan your zodiacal light pictures

The zodiacal light is a relatively unknown astronomical phenomenon.

And it’s truly surprising because it can produce a spectacular effect on your images generating an almost surreal glow. Like in a science fiction movie!

But it's not. It's very real.

However, the zodiacal light is shy and elusive. You won't always be able to see and/or photograph it. In fact, as with the Milky Way, everything depends on the location from which you want to take the photo.

In the Northern Hemisphere, you can photograph it in:

  • Spring, around the March equinox (late February, March and early April). The zodiacal light is visible to the west, at the end of the astronomical twilight, after sunset and in the sunset direction.
  • Fall, around the September equinox (late August, September and early October). The zodiacal light is visible to the east, before the astronomical twilight, before dawn and in the sunrise direction.

In the Southern Hemisphere, you can photograph it in:

  • Fall, around the March equinox (late February, March and early April). The zodiacal light is visible to the east, before the astronomical twilight, before dawn and in the sunrise direction.
  • Spring, around the September equinox (end of August, September and beginning of October). The zodiacal light is visible to the west, at the end of the astronomical twilight, after sunset and in the sunset direction.

The zodiacal light starts in the horizon from the Sun position and extends up along the ecliptic. Its trajectory passes through all the constellations of the zodiac.

Moreover, depending on the time of day and the time of year, the zodiacal light orientation varies. This means that at the best observation moment, when the Sun is below -18º elevation, the zodiacal light may be more or less inclined.

Therefore, the zodiacal light can appear inclined above the horizon. And its inclination, height and width will vary throughout the night. The zodiacal light reaches its maximum height when the Sun elevation is -18º. Therefore, the lower the Sun elevation, the less height and width the zodiacal light will have.

During the equinoxes, just before sunrise or after sunset, the ecliptic is more vertical with respect to the horizon. Therefore, the days around these dates are the perfect time to photograph the zodiacal light: most of this light will be above the horizon.

At that time, the zodiacal light above the horizon can reach a width of about 40º and a height from the Sun of about 60º or 70º. It has a triangular shape.

To plan it, the first thing you have to do is to choose a time frame around the March or September equinox.

But let me explain it to you with an example...

Imagine you're in the Northern Hemisphere and the September equinox is coming up.

So you need to determine a shooting date from late August, September or early October. Remember that in this case, in the Northern Hemisphere, the zodiacal light is visible before the astronomical twilight (i.e. before sunrise) and in the sunrise direction.

PhotoPills Sun - Tap Seasons to see the exact date and time of the solstices and equinoxes in the Sun Pill.
PhotoPills Planner - According to the position of the Red Pin (Cala Presili in Menorca, Spain) and the shooting date (September 29, 2019), the zodiacal light will be visible in the sunrise direction (thick yellow line), before the astronomical twilight begins at 06:06, just before sunrise.

In this example, follow these steps to plan the zodiacal light:

  • Choose the shooting date. Keep in mind that it should be a day around the September equinox and, if possible, there should be a New Moon to avoid any light source so the zodiacal light is as visible as possible.
  • Open PhotoPills, tap Sun (Pills Menu) and then tap Seasons. This screen tells you that the September equinox is on 09/23/09 at 09:51 (current time of your current position, not the Red Pin).
  • Tap the date and time of the September equinox. Now, on the main Sun screen, tap Action and select Send to planner from the drop-down menu.
  • Pn the Planner, move the Red Pin to a location with:
    • Little light pollution. This is essential because zodiacal light is very weak and any light pollution can make it disappear completely.
    • A clean horizon in the sunrise direction, in this case. This way you make sure you can include as much zodiacal light as possible in the frame.
  • In this example, place the Red Pin in Cala Presili, a beautiful beach to the west of the island of Menorca (Spain). If you don't know how to do it, this video shows you how to move the Red Pin.
  • Swipe the top panels to Panel 3. On September 23 the Moon is decreasing and its phase is 37%.
  • You’re interested in locating the shooting date on the closest New Moon in time. To do this, swipe the top panels to the left until you see Panel 4. Then, tap the Moon icon to make PhotoPills jump to the next Moon phase. In this case, it’s the New Moon of the 09/28/19 at 20:27.
  • Now you have to swipe the Time Bar until the beginning of the astronomical twilight of the previous or next morning. It’s the deadline from which the sunlight starts, making the zodiacal light disappear. As the potential shooting date approaches, check the weather forecast. It will help you choose the final shooting date. Any night when there is no Moon before the astronomical twilight is fine.
  • But first, swipe the top panels to the left to get to Panel 5. It tells you the hours of the astronomical twilight.
  • Swipe the Time Bar to the left, for example, to jump a day forwards in time (09/29/19).
  • Panel 5 has been updated with the twilight hours of 09/29/19. And it tells you that the morning astronomical twilight starts at 06:06. Now you know that your photo session will end on 09/29/19 at 06:06 :)
  • Moreover, the thick yellow line tells you the direction in which you should point your camera to. In this case, to the direction in which the zodiacal light is centered with the beach.

Well, that's it.

You’ve just planned your next photo of zodiacal light ;)

Great! Now you should be an expert in planning (almost).

Learning to plan requires some study and practice. But it's easier than it looks. I plan my photos in seconds... And so can you!

Once the photo is planned, let's see how to successfully capture it.

Keep reading!

15.How to shoot the best 2019 astronomical events

You just learnt how to plan one of these amazing space events.

Now, it’s time to find out how to shot it!

How to shoot the Milky Way (including the galactic core!)

Nikon D4s | 17mm | f/2.8 | 30s | ISO 3200 | 3400K

You had the idea, you planned it, a few months ago maybe, and finally you find yourself in a spectacular location, outdoors, in the middle of the night, ready to live and photograph the moment...

But before pressing the shutter button, you have to prepare everything thoroughly.

Follow the steps below to photograph the Milky Way:

  • Use the PhotoPills Night Augmented Reality view to check you're in the right place.
  • Place the tripod on a solid surface and make sure the equipment is stable.
  • If you have it on, remove the ultraviolet (UV) filter.
  • If there is light pollution in your scene from sodium vapor light sources (they generate a yellowish glow), you should use a light pollution filter.
  • Turn off the image stabilization system.
  • If your camera has it, turn off the long exposure noise reduction option.
  • Shoot in RAW.
  • Use the shortest focal length you can (14mm, 18mm, 24mm,...). Try to keep it below 35mm.
  • Focus at the hyperfocal distance to maximize the depth of field.
  • Select the Manual shooting mode (M).
  • Use the largest aperture you can to capture as much light as possible.
  • Crank up the ISO to 3200 or 6400.
  • Take a test shot to check that the framing is correct.
  • Use the NPF rule to adjust the shutter speed and avoid Star Trails. It's easy with PhotoPills and the Spot stars calculator.
  • Adjust the ISO depending on how much noise your camera produces.
  • Set the white balance to manual. Set it between 3400 and 3900K. If you use a light pollution filter, I suggest you adjust the color temperature to 5000K as this type of filter usually generates a bluish cast.
  • Frame and take a couple of test shots to check if you like what you see and adjust accordingly.
  • Depending on the light pollution you find in the location, illuminate the foreground with an artificial light (optional).
  • Take the picture. Check the histogram and adjust the exposure accordingly.

That's it!

Once you find an exposure you like, simply enjoy photographing the fantastic moment nature is offering you.

You can find the whole workflow explained in great detail in our super guide on how to photograph the Milky Way.

How to shoot a Full Moon (and a Supermoon!)

Nikon D4s| 340mm | f/5.6 | 1/320s | ISO 3200 | 6000K

Photographing the Full Moon is a challenge. But the prize you can get in return is so rewarding that you shouldn't have cold feet.

That's why it's important that you follow these recommendations carefully. A slight deviation when positioning yourself at the shooting spot can be fatal!

Follow the steps below to photograph a Full Moon:

  • Use the PhotoPills Planner to check that you are in the right place. You can activate the option to see your position on the map by pressing the (+) button on the map. Then, press the eighth toolbar button that shows up (it's a compass icon). Now you see a blue circle on the map: it displays your current position. Walk to the Red Pin location. To do this, it’s important to zoom in on the map and check that the blue dot is actually aligned with the base of the Red Pin (where the stick is pinned).
  • Place the tripod on a solid surface and make sure the equipment is stable.
  • If you have it on, remove the ultraviolet (UV) filter.
  • If your lens has an image stabilization system, turn it on.
  • Shoot in RAW.
  • Use a long focal length (100mm, 150mm, 200mm,...) or a very long one (300mm, 450mm, 600mm,...).
  • Frame and focus. If the landscape covers a large part of the frame, you can focus at about 1/3 of the frame starting from the bottom. But if the Moon and the main subject cover most of the frame, you should focus on the subject to get it tack sharp.
  • Take a test shot to check that the framing and the focus are correct.
  • Select the Manual shooting mode (M).
  • The exposure will depend on the natural light you have at the time of the photo (and the photo you want to capture). Imagine, for example, that it’s golden hour before sunset (the elevation Sun is between 6º and 0º).
  • In this case, use a medium (f/8) or slightly large (f/5.6) aperture.
  • The shutter speed can range from 1/200s to 1/8s.
  • Use an ISO as low as possible. Start with ISO 100 and crank it up depending on the light conditions (usually between 100 and 1600).
  • Set the white balance to manual. Set it between 3400 and 5000K to boost blue tones or between 6000 and 7500K to boost golden ones.
  • Take the picture. Check the histogram and adjust the exposure accordingly.

If you want to learn (or review) the whole shooting workflow, especially when deciding the exposure triangle according to the light conditions, take a look at the Full Moon guide where I explain it step by step.

If a Supermoon is approaching, the shooting workflow is very similar. You just need an idea, a powerful location, and the right gear.

Moreover, PhotoPills will give you all the information you need so you can nail your shot ;)

How to shoot a Meteor Shower

Nikon D4s | 14mm | f/2.8 | 30s | ISO 5000 | 120 photos stacked

Photographing a Meteor Shower is a magical experience. You’re outdoors, in a beautiful location, enjoying the sky waiting for the show to begin.

But it can also be a very profitable shooting session from a creative point of view.

You can take advantage of the shots to:

Meteor Showers require long shooting sessions because you need several hours to capture in full swing what is happening. But they are very profitable if the weather conditions are good.

The idea is that you don't stop taking pictures during the whole session. Well, not you, your camera... So I recommend you to use an intervalometer, program it and stop worrying ;)

Follow the steps below to photograph a Meteor Shower:

  • Before leaving home, check the weather forecast to make sure there will be no clouds.
  • Use the PhotoPills Night Augmented Reality view to check you're in the right place and find out the Meteor Shower radiant in the sky.
  • Place the tripod on a solid surface and make sure the equipment is stable.
  • If you have it on, remove the ultraviolet (UV) filter.
  • If there is light pollution in your scene from sodium vapor light sources (they generate a yellowish glow), you should use a light pollution filter.
  • Turn off the image stabilization system.
  • If your camera has it, turn off the long exposure noise reduction option.
  • Shoot in RAW.
  • Use the shortest focal length you can (14mm, 18mm, 24mm,...). Try to keep it below 35mm.
  • Focus at the hyperfocal distance to maximize the depth of field.
  • Select the Manual shooting mode (M).
  • Use the largest aperture you can to capture as much light as possible.
  • Crank up the ISO as much as possible without your camera producing a lot of noise (ideally an ISO higher than 1600).
  • Use the NPF rule to adjust the shutter speed and avoid Star Trails (between 20 and 35 seconds). It's easy with PhotoPills and the Spot stars calculator.
  • Set the white balance to manual. Set it between 3400 and 3900K. If you use a light pollution filter, I suggest you adjust the color temperature to 5000K as this type of filter usually generates a bluish cast.
  • Take a test shot. Check the histogram and adjust the exposure accordingly.
  • Select the Bulb shooting mode.
  • Use an intervalometer to select the shutter speed and the time frame between the end of one photo and the beginning of the next one.
  • Turn off the LCD before starting the shooting session to save battery.
  • Take a couple of dark frames (just cover the lens with the lens cover) at the end of the session. Use them during post-processing to reduce the noise of the final image.

Anyway, if you want to learn (or review) the whole shooting workflow, take a look at the guide to the best Meteor Showers in 2019 where I explain it step by step...

How to shoot a lunar eclipse

Nikon D4s | 500mm | f/8 | 2s | ISO 1600 | 4300K

There are actually several ways to photograph a lunar eclipse.

In other words, you can get different types of photos, depending on the type of lunar eclipse it is and the phase you want to capture.

A lunar eclipse can be total, partial or penumbral. And it can have up to 7 phases:

  • Penumbral eclipse begins (P1).
  • Partial eclipse begins (U1).
  • Total eclipse begins (U2).
  • Greatest eclipse (Max.).
  • Total eclipse ends (U3).
  • Partial eclipse ends (U4).
  • Penumbral eclipse ends (P4).

Let's see how you can capture, for example, the Blood Moon – the moment of the eclipse during which the Moon turns red. It's spectacular!

Follow the steps below to photograph a Blood Moon:

  • Use the PhotoPills Planner to check that you are in the right place.
  • Place the tripod on a solid surface and make sure the equipment is stable.
  • If you have it on, remove the ultraviolet (UV) filter.
  • If there is light pollution in your scene from sodium vapor light sources (they generate a yellowish glow), you should use a light pollution filter.
  • If your lens has an image stabilization system, turn it on.
  • Shoot in RAW.
  • Use the longest focal length you can (300mm, 450mm, 600mm,...).
  • Focus directly on the Moon. Use the Live View function. And if your camera has the Focus Peaking and/or Focus Magnifier functions, turn them on too because they will help you to be even more precise.
  • Take a test shot to check that the framing and the focus are correct.
  • Use the spot metering mode and meter light directly on the surface of the Moon before the eclipse begins. If you have a mirrorless camera, now is the time to use the live histogram option.
  • Select the Manual shooting mode (M).
  • Use the largest aperture you can to capture as much light as possible.
  • Use a shutter speed from 1/2s. Make sure it is not slower than 1s to avoid capturing the Moon in motion.
  • Select the lowest ISO possible taking into account that, since you can’t exceed a shutter speed of 1s, you may have to crank it up to 1600 or even more.
  • Set the white balance to manual. Set it to a temperature between approximately 4300K and 5500K.
  • To make sure you get a properly exposed final photo, do a 1-stop bracketing . Again, if you have a mirrorless camera, now is the time to use the live histogram option.
  • Take the picture. Check the histogram and adjust the exposure accordingly.

Anyway, if you want to learn (or review) the whole shooting workflow of any of the phases of a lunar eclipse, take a look at the guide to the best lunar eclipses where I explain it to you step by step!

So don't miss the next chance and do your best to photograph a Moon eclipse. PhotoPills will help you to be in the right place at the right time.

In 2019, you actually have 2 chances: a total one on January 20 (or 21, depending on your location) and a partial one on July 16.

How to shoot a solar eclipse

Nikon D500 | 500mm | f/8 | 1/30s | ISO 100 | 6450K

Photographing a solar eclipse is an adventure... And a great challenge!

It's a magical event that nature rarely offers you and that happens for a very short time. So you have to be nimble and fast. And don't stress out while trying, of course... ;)

Similarly to a lunar eclipse, you can get different types of photos, depending on the type of solar eclipse it is and the phase you want to capture.

A solar eclipse can be total, partial or annular. And it can have up to 5 phases:

  • Partial eclipse begins (1st contact - C1).
  • Total eclipse begins (2nd contact - C2).
  • Total and maximum eclipse (Max.).
  • Total eclipse ends (3rd contact - C3).
  • Partial eclipse ends (4th contact - C4).

Let's see how you can capture, for example, totality – the moment of the eclipse when the Moon covers the Sun completely. It's spectacular!

Follow the steps below to photograph totality:

  • Before leaving home, check the weather forecast to make sure there will be no clouds.
  • Use the PhotoPills Planner to check that you are in the right place.
  • Place the tripod on a solid surface and make sure the equipment is stable.
  • Before the solar eclipse starts, put the solar filter.
  • Turn off the image stabilization system.
  • Shoot in RAW.
  • Use the longest focal length you can (300mm, 450mm, 600mm,...).
  • Frame and focus directly on the Sun’s edge. Use the Live View function. And if your camera has the Focus Peaking and/or Focus Magnifier functions, turn them on too because they will help you to be even more precise.
  • If it’s on, remove the solar filter a few seconds before the partial eclipse ends.
  • You don't have time to meter... We'll see right away how you can complete the exposure triangle. If you have a mirrorless camera, now is the time to use the live histogram option.
  • Select the Manual shooting mode (M).
  • Use a relatively small aperture (f/8) to get the Sun and the Moon tack sharp.
  • Select the lowest ISO you can (nominal, that is 100 or 200).
  • You haven't metered. Nor do you have time to calculate the shutte speed. To calculate the exposure you can use Fred Espenak's exposure table to choose a base shutter speed (1/30s for example) and then do a 1-stop bracketing. Again, if you have a mirrorless camera, now is the time to use the live histogram option.
  • Set the white balance to manual. In this particular case, I used a color temperature of 6450K. There is no time to take test shots during totality, so I chose this particular temperature as a base and then adjust it in post-processing if necessary.
  • Take the photos.

I’ve explained you the shooting workflow that you should follow during totality (the Sun's corona).

But during a solar eclipse you can capture bands of shadows, the partial eclipse, the diamond ring, the Baily’s beads and the chromosphere. Take a look at the guide to the best solar eclipses where I explain step by step how to take each photo!

So don't miss the next opportunity and make the most of PhotoPills so that solar eclipse becomes a unique experience you'll never forget.

In 2019, you actually have 2 chances: a total one on July 2 and an annular one on December 26.

How to shoot Star Trails

Nikon D4s | 20mm | f/4 | 30s | ISO 1600 | 3000K | 168 photos stacked with Starstax

People can't help but look at any Star Trails picture. Because it's something that's happening out there in the universe, but no one can see it with the naked eye.

And as difficult as it may seem, it's not.

You just need a good location with an interesting foreground, a clear night with no Moon and to decide the Star Trails pattern you want to capture.

To capture Star Trails, you can do it in two ways:

I almost always use this second option. So let's use it as an example to explain the workflow you should follow.

Follow these steps to photograph Star Trails with multiple exposures (the more shots you take, the longer the trails):

  • Before leaving home, check the weather forecast to make sure there will be no clouds.
  • Use the PhotoPills Night Augmented Reality view to check you're in the right place to get the Star Trails pattern and composition that you have in mind.
  • Place the tripod on a solid surface and make sure the equipment is stable.
  • If you have it on, remove the ultraviolet (UV) filter.
  • If there is light pollution in your scene from sodium vapor light sources (they generate a yellowish glow), you should use a light pollution filter.
  • Turn off the image stabilization system.
  • If your camera has it, turn off the long exposure noise reduction option.
  • Shoot in RAW.
  • Use the focal distance you prefer depending on the composition you like.
  • Focus at the hyperfocal distance to maximize the depth of field.
  • Select the Manual shooting mode (M).
  • Use the largest aperture you can to capture as much light as possible.
  • It's not mandatory, but I like to use the same exposure time that I use when photographing the Milky Way. So I use PhotoPills and the Spot stars calculator to calculate it.
  • Crank up the ISO to 1600 or 3200. If you want to capture the true color of the stars don’t use an ISO higher than 1600.
  • Set the white balance to manual. Set it between 3400 and 3900K. If you use a light pollution filter, I suggest you adjust the color temperature to 5000K as this type of filter usually generates a bluish cast.
  • Frame and level the camera.
  • Depending on the light pollution you find in the location, illuminate the foreground with an artificial light (optional).
  • Include a model in the photo (optional).
  • Take a test shot. Check the histogram and adjust the exposure by changing the exposure time or ISO.
  • Set the Bulb shooting mode.
  • Use an intervalometer to select the shutter speed and the time frame between the end of one photo and the beginning of the next one.
  • Take a few test shots until you get the light in the scene that you want.
  • Turn off the LCD before starting the shooting session to save battery.
  • Before the end of the shooting session, lit again the foreground and take the last shot to have two foreground shots to choose from.
  • Take a couple of dark frames (just cover the lens with the lens cover) at the end of the session. Use them during post-processing to reduce the noise of the final image.
  • Use a second camera during the session to capture the Milky Way.

Anyway, if you want to learn (or review) the whole shooting workflow, take a look at the Star Trails guide where I explain it to you step by step!

How to shoot a Moon-planet conjunction

Nikon D4s | 35mm | f/1.8 | 1s | ISO 400 | 5000K

This type of photography has a great advantage: you can always use the Moon as a reference. So the planning (section 14) is easier than for other images.

The nice thing about a conjunction between the Moon and a planet is that you have the opportunity to capture a star that is not always visible in the night sky. Also, depending on its magnitude (ie. how much it shines), it may stand out strongly in the sky.

So the result, if you combine it with an interesting scene and subject, can be striking.

Follow the steps below to photograph a Moon-planet conjunction:

  • Use the PhotoPills Night Augmented Reality view to check you're in the right place.
  • Place the tripod on a solid surface and make sure the equipment is stable.
  • If you have it on, remove the ultraviolet (UV) filter.
  • If there is light pollution in your scene from sodium vapor light sources (they generate a yellowish glow), you should use a light pollution filter.
  • Turn off the image stabilization system.
  • If your camera has it, turn off the long exposure noise reduction option.
  • Shoot in RAW.
  • Depending on what you want to include in the frame, use the shortest focal length you can (14mm, 18mm, 24mm,...) to have the landscape or use a longer focal length (200mm, 300mm, 400mm,...) if you only want to have the stars in your composition.
  • Focus at the hyperfocal distance to maximize the depth of field if you include the landscape and shoot with a wide angle or short lens. If you use a telephoto lens, focus directly on your subject or on the Moon.
  • Select the Manual shooting mode (M).
  • Use the largest aperture you can to capture as much light as possible.
  • Crank up the ISO to 3200 or 6400.
  • Take a test shot to check that the framing is correct.
  • The Moon will be probably be the brightest object in your scene. In this case use the spot metering mode and meter directly on the surface of the Moon to calculate the shutter speed. Overexpose by 1 or 2 stops (+1EV or +2EV), or respecting your camera's overexposure limit. Avoid using a speed greater than 1s. Otherwise you risk getting a blurred Moon. If you need to use a slower speed (more exposure time), as you’re already using the maximum aperture, you’ll have to crank up the ISO (remember how the exposure triangle works).
  • Adjust the ISO depending on how your much noise your camera produces.
  • Set the white balance to manual. Set it between 3400 and 3900K. If you use a light pollution filter, I suggest you adjust the color temperature to 5000K as this type of filter usually generates a bluish cast.
  • Frame and take a couple of test shots to check if you like what you see and adjust accordingly.
  • Depending on the light pollution you find in the location, illuminate the foreground with an artificial light (optional).
  • Take the picture. Check the histogram and adjust the exposure accordingly.

How to shoot a planets conjunction or a planet conjunction with a Deep-Sky Object (DSO)

Nikon Z6 | 200mm | f/4 | 90s | ISO 1600 | 5500K | Pure Night light pollution filter | iOptron SkyGuider Pro | 14 photos stacked

The workflow is very similar to the one I described in the previous photo. The added difficulty in this case is that you can't use the Moon as a reference.

But, as I explained in the plan (section 14), there are tricks to know where to point the camera to.

Follow the steps below to photograph a planets conjunction:

  • Place the tripod on a solid surface and make sure the equipment is stable.
  • If you have it on, remove the ultraviolet (UV) filter. If you use a motorized equatorial mount (with tracking) with a telephoto lens it may be interesting to leave it on: in some cases it remove the purple halos around the stars. You can also remove them with Photoshop.
  • If there is light pollution in your scene from sodium vapor light sources (they generate a yellowish glow), you should use a light pollution filter.
  • Turn off the image stabilization system.
  • If your camera has it, turn off the long exposure noise reduction option.
  • Shoot in RAW.
  • Depending on what you want to include in the frame, use the shortest focal length you can (14mm, 18mm, 24mm,...) to have the landscape or use a longer focal length (200mm, 300mm, 400mm,...) if you only want to have the stars in your composition. If you use a long focal length, you should use a motorized equatorial mount (with tracking) to increase the exposure time (use a slower shutter speed) without producing Star Trails.
  • If you use a wide angle lens and you include the landscape in the frame, focus at the hyperfocal distance to maximize the depth of field.
  • If you use a telephoto lens you can focus directly on the planets. Use the Live View function on the LCD of your camera to focus accurately. And if your camera has the Focus Peaking and/or Focus Magnifier functions, turn them on too because they will help you to be even more precise. Zoom in the image, always with the Live View function on, until you see the planet. Then, turn slowly the focus ring of the lens until the planet is a tack sharp spot. If you’re not used to focusing manually, turn the focus ring very subtly and when you notice that your subject (the planet) is focused, keep turning the ring until you go a little out of focus and then, turn the ring in the opposite direction to get everything in focus again. This way you’ll see very clearly how everything is now in focus again.
  • Select the Manual shooting mode (M).
  • Use the largest aperture you can to capture as much light as possible. If you use a motorized equatorial mount (with tracking), close the maximum aperture 1 or 2 stops, to get a better image quality. Thanks to this mount and its tracking system, the shutter speed will no longer be a problem.
  • Crank up the ISO to 3200 or 6400. You may have to crank it up to 10000 if your camera allows it and you don't use a star tracking system.
  • Take a test shot to check that the framing is correct.
  • If you don’t use a motorized equatorial mount (with tracking), use the NPF rule to adjust the shutter speed and avoid Star Trails. It's easy with PhotoPills and the Spot stars calculator.
  • If you use a motorized equatorial mount (with tracking), you need to take a test shot to calculate the shutter speed. Follow the same workflow as for capturing a Star Trails picture with a single exposure:
    • Crank up the ISO to maximum, use the maximum aperture and select a shutter speed of about 10 seconds.
    • Take a picture.
    • If the photo is too dark, use a slower shutter speed. If the stars are overexposed, increase the shutter speed (reduce the exposure time).
    • Repeat the process until you get a correct exposure.
    • As soon as you have it, apply the reciprocity law by lowering ISO and increasing the exposure time (you can use the PhotoPills Exposure calculator to do the math).
  • Adjust the ISO depending on how your much noise your camera produces.
  • Set the white balance to manual. Set it between 3400 and 3900K. If you use a light pollution filter, I suggest you adjust the color temperature to 5000K as this type of filter usually generates a bluish cast.
  • Frame and take a couple of test shots to check if you like what you see and adjust accordingly.
  • Take the picture. Check the histogram and adjust the exposure accordingly.

How to shoot a comet

C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy) comet. Nikon D700 | 85mm | f/1.4 | 6s | ISO 6400 | 4000K | 20 photos stacked

Photographing a comet is a challenge. For starters because comets are celestial bodies whose behaviour, and above all their brightness, is quite unpredictable.

Actually, the most important thing is to find out in which direction you have to point your camera so that you can get a better framing. And since that's something you already found out during the planning (section 14), all you have to do is take the picture... ;)

Follow the steps below to photograph a comet:

  • Place the tripod on a solid surface and make sure the equipment is stable.
  • If you have it on, remove the ultraviolet (UV) filter. If you use a motorized equatorial mount (with tracking) with a telephoto lens it may be interesting to leave it on: in some cases it remove the purple halos around the stars. You can also remove them with Photoshop.
  • If there is light pollution in your scene from sodium vapor light sources (they generate a yellowish glow), you should use a light pollution filter.
  • Turn off the image stabilization system.
  • If your camera has it, turn off the long exposure noise reduction option.
  • Shoot in RAW.
  • Use a medium (70mm, 85mm,...) or long (100mm, 150mm...) focal length. The longer the focal length, the bigger the stars will come out. But, at the same time, you’ll have to use a faster shutter speed to avoid Star Trails. So for this type of photography you should use a motorized equatorial mount (with tracking) to increase the exposure time (use a slower shutter speed). Depending on the equatorial mount, you can use focal lengths between 200mm and 500mm without a problem thanks to its tracking system.
  • Focus directly on the stars. Use the Live View function on the LCD of your camera to focus accurately. And if your camera has the Focus Peaking and/or Focus Magnifier functions, turn them on too because they will help you to be even more precise. Zoom in the image, always with the Live View function on, until you see the star. Then, turn slowly the focus ring of the lens until the planet is a tack sharp spot. If you’re not used to focusing manually, turn the focus ring very subtly and when you notice that your subject (the star) is focused, keep turning the ring until you go a little out of focus and then, turn the ring in the opposite direction to get everything in focus again. This way you’ll see very clearly how everything is now in focus again.
  • Select the Manual shooting mode (M).
  • Use the largest aperture you can to capture as much light as possible. If you use a motorized equatorial mount (with tracking), close the maximum aperture 1 or 2 stops, to get a better image quality. Thanks to this mount and its tracking system, the shutter speed will no longer be a problem.
  • Crank up the ISO to 3200 or 6400. You may have to crank it up to 10000 if your camera allows it and you don't use a star tracking system.
  • Take a test shot to check that the framing is correct.
  • If you don’t use a motorized equatorial mount (with tracking), use the NPF rule to adjust the shutter speed and avoid Star Trails. It's easy with PhotoPills and the Spot stars calculator.
  • If you use a motorized equatorial mount (with tracking), you need to take a test shot to calculate the shutter speed. Follow the same workflow as for capturing a Star Trails picture with a single exposure:
    • Crank up the ISO to maximum, use the maximum aperture and select a shutter speed of about 10 seconds.
    • Take a picture.
    • If the photo is too dark, use a slower shutter speed. If the stars are overexposed, increase the shutter speed (reduce the exposure time).
    • Repeat the process until you get a correct exposure.
    • As soon as you have it, apply the reciprocity law by lowering ISO, adjusting the aperture (I suggest you to use an aperture 1 or 2 stops smaller than your lens’ widest one because the stars will come out as spots thanks to the equatorial mount tracking) and increasing the exposure time (you can use the PhotoPills Exposure calculator to do the math).
  • Adjust the ISO depending on how your much noise your camera produces.
  • Set the white balance to manual. Set it between 3400 and 3900K. If you use a light pollution filter, I suggest you adjust the color temperature to 5000K as this type of filter usually generates a bluish cast.
  • Frame and take a couple of test shots to check if you like what you see and adjust accordingly.
  • Take the picture. Check the histogram and adjust the exposure accordingly.

How to shoot a planet transit across the Sun

Photo by blackphobos

As with a conjunction between the Moon and a planet, if you want to capture the transit of a planet through the Sun you have a very clear reference: the Sun.

From there, it’s much easier to work on the composition and also get the right focus and exposure.

Keep in mind that the size of the planet compared to the Sun will be teeny-tiny. So you need a very long focal length.

The shooting workflow of this type of shot is very similar to a partial eclipse of the Sun shooting workflow. So don't forget the solar filter and your solar eclipse glasses at home!

Follow the steps below to photograph a planet transit across the Sun:

  • Before leaving home, check the weather forecast to make sure there will be no clouds.
  • Use the PhotoPills Augmented Reality view to check that you are in the right place to get the composition you want.
  • Place the tripod on a solid surface and make sure the equipment is stable.
  • Before the solar eclipse starts, put the solar filter.
  • Turn off the image stabilization system.
  • Shoot in RAW.
  • Use the longest focal length you can (300mm, 450mm, 600mm,...).
  • Frame and focus directly on the Sun’s edge. Use the Live View function. And if your camera has the Focus Peaking and/or Focus Magnifier functions, turn them on too because they will help you to be even more precise.
  • Use the spot metering mode and meter light directly on the surface of the Sun before the transit begins. If you have a mirrorless camera, now is the time to use the live histogram option.
  • Select the Manual shooting mode (M).
  • Use a relatively small aperture (f/8) to get the Sun and the planet tack sharp.
  • Select the lowest ISO you can (nominal, that is 100 or 200).
  • Taking into account the metering, the aperture and the ISO, adjust the shutter speed to have the light meter centered at zero (correctly exposed). Then, do a 1-stop bracketing of several exposures. Again, if you have a mirrorless camera, now is the time to use the live histogram option.
  • Set the white balance to manual. The color temperature depends on the filter you use. Select a neutral temperature of 5500K, check the color you get and adjust. If the Sun is very yellow, use a lower temperature (about 4300K) to make it whiter. On the other hand, if you want to intensify the yellow, increase the color temperature (about 6500K).
  • Take the photos.

How to shoot the zodiacal light

Nikon Z6 | 18mm | f/2.8 | 15s | ISO 1600 | 3800K

As I told you in section 14, the zodiacal light is a difficult phenomenon to photograph. You need very specific conditions for it to happen.

Moreover, it’s crucial that you look for a location without light pollution. Zodiacal light is very dim and you need as much darkness as possible in order to photograph it successfully.

And speaking of pictures, do you want to know how you can capture it?

Fine, I'll explain it to you in a second.

Follow the steps below to photograph the zodiacal light:

  • Use the PhotoPills Planner or the Augmented Reality (RA) button to check that you are in the right place. To photograph the zodiacal light you need to know the sunrise or sunset direction (depending on the case).
  • Place the tripod on a solid surface and make sure the equipment is stable.
  • If you have it on, remove the ultraviolet (UV) filter.
  • If there is light pollution in your scene from sodium vapor light sources (they generate a yellowish glow), you should use a light pollution filter.
  • Turn off the image stabilization system.
  • If your camera has it, turn off the long exposure noise reduction option.
  • Shoot in RAW.
  • Use the shortest focal length you can (14mm, 18mm, 24mm,...). Try to keep it below 35mm.
  • Focus at the hyperfocal distance to maximize the depth of field.
  • Select the Manual shooting mode (M).
  • Use the largest aperture you can to capture as much light as possible.
  • Crank up the ISO to 3200 or 6400.
  • Take a test shot to check that the framing is correct.
  • Use the NPF rule to adjust the shutter speed and avoid Star Trails. It's easy with PhotoPills and the Spot stars calculator.
  • Adjust the ISO depending on how much noise your camera produces.
  • Set the white balance to manual. Set it between 3400 and 3900K. If you use a light pollution filter, I suggest you adjust the color temperature to 5000K as this type of filter usually generates a bluish cast.
  • Frame and take a couple of test shots to check if you like what you see and adjust accordingly.
  • Depending on the light pollution you find in the location, illuminate the foreground with an artificial light (optional).
  • Take the picture. Check the histogram and adjust the exposure accordingly.

Sometimes it’s known as false sunrise or false sunset, but I’m sure you’ll photograph it as soon as you aim for it.

I could hardly believe it when I saw it there, on the LCD of my camera!

Now you can photograph any of the astronomical events taking place in 2019.

You no longer have any excuse for not going out and hunt one of these wonders!

16.Astronomical glossary

Throughout this guide I've been introducing a series of words and names that I had not explained before.

So I thought that the easiest way to help you understand everything in a clear and simple way is to include this section: a glossary with definitions and explanations.

Let’s go for it!

Bulge - The bulge is the area of the Milky Way (or any other galaxy) with the highest concentration of stars. It’s located around the galactic center.

Conjunction - From the point of view of an observer on Earth, two stars are in conjunction when they are in the same celestial longitude. However, since they’re not at the same celestial latitude, you have the impression that they are very close in the sky. That is why one passes over the other and in each of the events I tell you which one is north or south of the other.

Ecliptic - It’s the Earth’s orbital plane around the Sun in the sky (or celestial sphere). It’s the line by which the Sun "moves" around the Earth, seen from the Earth.

Elongation - In astronomy, a planet’s elongation is the angle between the Sun and a planet, using the Earth as the reference point. In fact, it measures the distance between the Sun and that planet, using the Earth as the reference point. Therefore, the maximum elongation of a planet means that its separation from the Sun is the maximum possible. Furthermore, being as far away from the Sun means that it’s the brightest moment in the sky.

Galactic Center - The Galactic Center is the rotational center of the Milky Way. It’s also its brightest area.

Magnitude - In astronomy, magnitude is the measure of a star's brightness. Although in this guide I always mention the apparent magnitude, which is the brightness measure of a star as you can perceive it observing it from the Earth. The smaller the number, the brighter a star looks to you. The Sun, for example, has an apparent magnitude of -27. The smaller the magnitude number the brighter the object and vice versa, the larger the number the less bright it is.

Magellanic Clouds - Magellanic Clouds are two very small galaxies. The largest one is called the Large Magellanic Cloud and the smallest one is the Small Magellanic Cloud. You can see them if you are in the Southern Hemisphere. They appear in the sky as two small whitish spots, opposite the Southern Cross (or Crux constellation) if you take the South Celestial Pole as a reference point.

Opposition - From the point of view of an observer on Earth, two stars are in opposition when they meet at two diametrically opposed points in the sky. When opposition occurs near the perihelion, their distance from the Earth is the least possible. Therefore, you can observe it more easily.

Path of totality - A total solar eclipse happens when the Moon completely covers the Sun. This event can only take place when the Moon is near perigee, the point of the Moon’s orbit closest to Earth. But because the full shadow of the Moon (also called umbra) is not big enough to cover the Earth completely, it only covers a portion. This area or path is called the path of totality. In other words, it’s the area from which the total solar eclipse can be seen.

Perigee - The perigee is the closest point to the Earth in the orbit of the Moon or any artificial satellite.

Perihelion - The perihelion of a star is the nearest point in its orbit around the Sun. In the case of a comet, for example, the fact of being in the perihelion facilitates its observation.

Summer Triangle - This is a triangle formed by the following stars: Vega of Lyra, Deneb of Cygnus and Altair of Aquila. Each one is the main star of its constellation. In the Northern Hemisphere, you can see it during most of the nightime in summer. In the Southern Hemisphere, you can see it upside down and at a lower elevation.

UTC - All dates and times in this guide are according UTC. That is, coordinated universal time. It’s the main worldwide time standard and it’s based on the international atomic time. This is a time standard calculated from a weighted average of the signals of the atomic clocks located in 70 national labs around the world.

Winter Triangle - This is a triangle formed by the following stars: Betelgeuse of Orion, Sirius of Canis Major and Procyon of Canis Minor. Each one is the main star of its constellation. In the Northern Hemisphere, you can see it during most of the nightime in winter. In the Southern Hemisphere, you can see it upside down and at a lower elevation.

Zodiac - In astronomy, the zodiac is an 18º wide band of the sky through which the Sun traces its course each year. That is, it’s centered on the ecliptic.

Zodiacal light - The zodiacal light is a cone of very dim light that you can see before dawn or after dusk is over. Regardless of your location, you can see it in the west in late winter or early spring (known as false sunset). While in the east you can see it before sunrise in late summer or early fall (called false sunrise). In fact, zodiacal light is the result of the reflection produced by a large interplanetary cloud along the zodiac.

17.Become a legend...

Well dear PhotoPiller, as you can see this year is full of amazing astronomical events.

Each of them is an opportunity to test your creativity and your photographic skills. They are a challenge to improve and to get that image you've been dreaming about for weeks, months (or years?)...

And since I know that nothing eludes you, I want to make you a proposal.

Or rather, I'd like to challenge you.

How does it feel?

I see... That look says it all ;)

Well, this is my proposal:

"Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make a photo album with at least the following events: a Milky Way panorama, a vertical Milky Way, a Full Moon (or Supermoon), a Meteor Shower, a solar or lunar eclipse, a Star Trails, a conjunction (Moon-planet or of planets) and a zodiacal light.

To do this, you’ll have to give everything you’ve got.

Whether traveling to remote and inaccessible places or staying close to home... You must push your creativity to the limit. You'll need to use all the tools (including |PhotoPills|) to always be in the right place, at the right time, and to capture the scene you dream of.

Actually, it won't be a single photo.

But a few ones. One per event.

Each of them will become a challenge...

A small challenge within a larger one: the PhotoPills 2019 Marathon.

And to complete it you have till the end of the year :P

As always, should you or any member of your team be caught in the attempt, the PhotoPills team will disavow any knowledge of your actions.

This message will self-destruct in five seconds.

Good luck PhotoPiller."

Are you ready for what's coming to you?

How exciting!

It's going to be a year full of legendary photos. Don't forget to send them to the PhotoPills Awards... You might even become a legend! :P

And as always, if you need help, I'm here for you. Just whistle or leave a comment below. I’ll do my best to solve your problem.

Imagine. Plan. Shoot!

 

Antoni Cladera is a landscape photographer with commitment to environment. Artist of the Spanish Confederation of Photography and member of the Spanish Association of Nature Photographers (AEFONA). He's a part of the PhotoPills Team.

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