Demo using handhold at https://youtu.be/Jey2b8LTduw
Demo using tripod at https://youtu.be/ACvc3pRiCp8
M42 is shot by Mike Weasner.
Rich Field is shot by John Cekala.
Often we ask ourself whether we can shot the Milky Way using our phone. This astrophotography app lets you capture the night sky with phone camera. It is created and tested in Singapore, the most light polluted country in the world. So if the Milky Way can be imaged here, you probably can do it in your country.
What you will need:
- tripod is optional. You can either handhold your phone or use the front camera in a cup. The front camera has lower resolution but can capture IR light. The back camera has higher resolution. It gives better image. Using a tripod give better and faster image while using handhold work conventiently without a tripod.
- another app to know where is the milky way. You will need to point the phone towards the Milky Way.
- The Milky Way is not visible to the eye in most cities. To capture it, you have to meet some critical conditions.
1. The timing is very important. You will need to know when the Milky Way is at the highest possible point in the sky. For my screenshots, I have to stay awake until 6am to shoot the Milky Way that is close to 60 degree altitude.
2. The sky can be partially cloudy. Best weather is clear sky. Milkycam can deal with passing cloud with its Pause and Continue button. It will also needs to see some stars so that it can track field rotation. If the sky is fully cloudy, then you have try later.
3. Choose a location where strong light from street or window would not shine into your camera. It is possible to shoot in the city because the sky glow can be blocked by trees and tall buildings. See screenshots.
Step by Step Operation:
1. Choose an exposure time from the time slider and it will start long exposure shot. 1 minute of long exposure is good for very subtle image of the Milky Way. The Time slider lets you choose from live to 16 min of exposure.
2. The app will auto choose alignment stars after 15 seconds. You can change the stars by tapping the Pause button and tap the bright stars you want to use for tracking.
3. Sit back and enjoy the live image stacking.
4. Once the the exposure time is finished. Adjust the brightness and contrast to pop out the Milky Way.
5. Tap save for a picture in your photo album.
Demo setup and use at https://youtu.be/dNtuZNSV6qo
Note: This app is designed to photo the dim milky way so it is useful only if you point it to the night sky. Otherwise the live view will wash out.
- 1 minute to 30 minutes of long exposure.
- Use with tripod or handhold.
- Choose any back cameras and front camera.
- Auto or manually select alignment stars by tapping them.
Focus - Adjust the camera focus.
Rate - Set camera frame rate. Higher value is better for handhold use and produces brighter image.
ISO - Higher value gives brighter. Set lower value if image is grainy.
Threshold - Set lower value to detect more stars.
Time - Total exposure time.
Period - Set the time for each stack. The app sums instead of averages the images.
Bin - Bin 1 gives highest resolution but stacks slower.
Bright - Slide to give brighter image.
Contrast - Slide to give clearer image.
Paint - Slide to adjust paint size. During stacking, the stars will be aligned but the landscape will be blurred due to Earth rotation. Use your finger to paint over blurred landscape to sharpen the building, trees etc.
Camera - switch to next camera in the phone.
Tripod - switch to tripod mode. Sharper result. Tap again to switch to handhold mode.
SkyGlow - Sky glow removal mode. To see any galaxy. Use bright slider to reveal the faint objects.
Export - Saved as 16 bit Tiff. Air drop to Mac to edit.
Name - Add your name to saved images.
Have fun and feel alive when you capture your own Milky Way.
- Fix some bugs.
Ratings and ReviewsSee All
Crashed time after time. Then Camera did the same. Rebooted phone. No longer crashes.
Suspect power outage during update of apps as cause.
Developer Response ,
Already send in update version 2.08 to fix the crashes. Do email me @ email@example.com whether the camera button still crash.
The latest update ruined this app. It has a terrible time locking on to stars which makes it useless please fix so i can gice this 5 stars again.
Updated review: the latest update seems to have fixed the problem to an extent. Depending on where I point the camera it is still having trouble locking onto a second target star. I can clearly see them through the app but it still won’t get a lock.
This happens about 50% of the time. I do love this app. When it works, it works fabulously. I have managed to get shots I that I used to only be able to get with my DSLR. Which is great because I don’t always have it with me.
The developer also does a wonderful job replying back to me and also in regards to updating the app.
It’s a shame some people have left so many low star ratings. This app far exceeds any app I’ve used thus far at doing what it says it can do.
Developer Response ,
Thanks for your feedback. I am interested to see your work using MilkyCam. Please email me or send a link!
I have add back the option to choose and lock stars in version 1.96. To lock first or second star, simply tap the star in the image. You can do it before start or after start stacking. Thank you very much.
PS. If you choose the Tripod mode, it is actually the same as previous version. Default Handhold mode make it even easier to shoot the night sky without a tripod.
iPhone 8+ and the night sky
I have been using this app for 30 plus nights. After some practice I have pleasing and measured results. I live 1677M above sea level with level 3 to 4 viewing conditions. On the same night I took two 900 second exposures of the constellation Taurus , one with the front 7mp camera and the other with the rear 12mp dual camera. A tripod is a must as is post image processing using the iOS internal EDIT functions. The iPhone captured what is printed on Map 5 of the Norton Sky Atlas. Awesome work to the developer, thank you.
Developer Response ,
Hi Thanks for your feedback. I am very interested to see your work. Could you email me firstname.lastname@example.org or post online with a link?
Note that the latest version goes without tripod. Certainly using a tripod will give better result. The handhold (hold the iPhone with hand) make it easier to shoot the night stars. Have fun!
With Family Sharing set up, up to six family members can use this app.