Night Photography Tips–Software For Planning Night Shoots

A few days ago, I suggested printing monthly charts for the rise and set times of the sun and moon. I find it extremely helpful to have a month’s worth of sun and moon data at a single glance. However, I don’t always rely solely on printed charts. Sometimes, having a visual representation of the night sky is very useful, particularly when trying to visualize the moon in relation to planets or comets.

I’m certainly no authority on the software available for viewing the night sky, but I can’t imagine that there is a program better suited for night photographers than Stellarium. It shows the sky exactly as you would see it with your own eyes, is very easy to use, and the desktop version is free. You can get it for your phone for a small price, but I don’t think the phone version has all the features of the desktop software and you don’t get the same warm and fuzzy feeling using it on a tiny screen. For field use, a tablet is ideal.

Imagine pressing a few buttons and seeing instantly what the sky will like at any time, any location, in any direction. I know, Stellarium isn’t the only program that can do this, but in my experience, it’s the best.

Thanks to David Mair for suggesting this tip.

Night Photography Tips is a nightly feature in which I give a quick tip for night photographers. It’s a way to share all the little things I do and think about in my night shooting, without boring you with my usual wordiness. If you have a tip you’d like to share, please email it to me and I might include it here, along with a link to your blog or website.

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