Shooting Milky Way Photos With Your Smartphone!

Milky way shooting,credit to Alejandro Benėt, from unsplash

Are you surprised by photos like these? It is not a surprising fact if they are taken with a DSLR camera or mirrorless camera. But what if I say these can all be done simply using your smart phone and a tripod? Of course, your smartphone needs to be recently produced and have a professional camera installed.

And yes, thanks to the great development of the advanced sensor technology, human being now can capture the beautiful stars sky or the Milky Way with the camera installed in their smart phone. You may have never realized that your phone on your hand is so amazing that it can capture the Milky Way better than your naked eyes. However, before taking an amazing photo like this, go check if you have fulfilled the 4 ’A’s down below.


  • A ’pro’ camera in your phone

The most important three parameters for Milky Way shooting are ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed. They determine the light exposure in your photo. Since the light from the galaxy is relatively weaker than the moon or any other artificial lighting, your need to maximize the exposure settings. The higher the ISO, larger the aperture, slower the shutter speed, the more beautiful galaxy picture you can get. So try a few attempts to elevate the ISO and aperture and down-regulate the shutter speed.

As mentioned above, a pro camera with high-end sensor must be built in already and you can switch from auto mode to manual mode. It allows you to play around with the parameters manually and is housed in many of today’s smartphones regardless of brands, including Huawei P20, Xiaomi, Nubia, Samsung S9 as well as Iphone X.

The settings in a pro camera, from the author
  • A tripod

To get the best exposure to the weak lighting, it will take like 20 or 30 seconds. So it will be impossible for you to hold the phone still for such a long time. A tripod may come in handy. It can maintain the sharpness of the photo. After assembling your phone on the tripod, you can tab the button and leave the camera alone.


  • A good timing

The Milky Way is not always seen in the sky, due to many factors such as foggy weather, light polluted sky. It is better to have a dark and moonless sky as the background since the light from the moon can overlap with the Milky Way. To make sure the galactic core is visible, you can download an app to check the best timing before you head off.


  • A good place

As I said above, the light from the Milky Way is way much weaker than artificial lighting, you’d better go to a remote countryside to get rid of the city light pollution. Choose a good place with trees or mountains that add to the beauty of your galaxy photo. For your information it may get freezing in the night so bring a coat with you.


You may already be surprised by the science behind a Milky Way photo. That’s also what I think when I gain the knowledge. What makes it more exciting is that it involves not only arts but also the science of physics, climate and astrology. Of course, given the limitation of the smartphone, we might not be able to capture the Milky Way as good as using a mirrorless camera. And it may need some editing afterwards. But it’s still amazing isn’t it? By using a smartphone and a tripod, everyone can become a master of photography.


Photographing the Milky Way with a Smartphone and the Future of Photography



8 Responses to “Shooting Milky Way Photos With Your Smartphone!”

  1. tzahin says:

    Interesting topic and lots of information are given. Surely, I’ll try some day.

  2. afujii says:

    Interesting topic! I didn’t know we can take nice Milky Way photos with smartphones.

  3. Hua Ye says:

    Congrad!You now have the chance to shoot Milky Way! Don’t forget to also fulfill the other prerequisites including the timing and the place:)

  4. Hua Ye says:

    You are right, Milky Way photos require the knowledge from technology and astrology.

  5. Hua Ye says:

    Yes, it’s very nice to know that everyone now has access to Milky Way photo, thanks to the development of technology! I also update some hyperlinks of DIY Milky Way photo taking in the article now, check them out if you are interested.

  6. Wenjia LU says:

    Thank you for the useful information. Actually, I don’t even know that smartphones could do all these “complicated” stuff. And luckily, I have a smartphone the brands you mentioned. I can’t wait to take a picture of the milky way right at the moment.

  7. Natali says:

    I think this a nice topic to get to know with universe

  8. loik says:

    That’s so cool. Although I previously knew that you can change to manual mode for the camera settings on your phone, I never would have thought that the phone camera would have enough resolution or long aperture time to even allow for taking photos of the night sky! I always thought that I would have to rely on expensive DSLR or mirrorless cameras with super pricey night lens or something. So that’s really interesting!