Software for Night Sky Photography


Software for Night Sky Photography

Planetarium and other Planning Software

Stellarium: Stellarium is a superb piece of planetarium software that renders a beautiful simulation of the sky at night (or day) for any time you like and from anywhere on Earth (and even other locations around the solar system). It's easy to use, and free! There is a paid App for your phone available as well.

The Photographers Ephemeris: The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE) shows you the direction of moonrise and moonset as well as sunrise and sunset from any location on Earth. Use it to plan an image with the moon or sun rising or setting over a particular feature in the landscape. The App is available for your smartphone or you can run the software on Mac and PC.

Photo Pills: An App for iOS only that allows you to plan not just direction for sun and moon rise/set but also the position of the Milky Way.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom: If you haven't made the switch to RAW image processing and a 'non-destructive' workflow you really should take a close look. There are many other RAW processing options as well, such as Canon Digital Photo Professional that you receive free with the purchase of a Canon camera.

Image Stacking

StarStaX: StarStaX by Markus Enzweiler is a fast multi-platform image stacking and blending software, which is developed primarily for Star Trail Photography. It allows to merge a series of photos into a single image, where the relative motion of the stars creates structures looking like star trails. StarStaX is available as Freeware for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux.

Star Trail Action for Photoshop: StarStaX is hard to beat, but if you really want to work in Photoshop, you can try this 2006 Photoshop Action developed by Chris Schur.

Timelapse Video

Virtual Dub: A basic but free video editing program which allows you to render a sequence of image files (not RAW) to an AVI video file. PC only. Get the H264 codec separately (below).

H.264 Video Codec: Video Codecs are the compression algorithms used to keep video file sizes small (the equivalent of using JPG compression for still images). H.264 is the most common format for online videos and installing this DonationWare X264 software will enable that option in Virtual Dub. Just remember to hit the 'configure' button and select the 'Virtual Dub Hack' option.

Timelapse Assembler: A simple program to render timelapse for Mac (Donationware).

LR Timelapse: LRTimelapse is a tool to make professional looking time lapse movies using Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Camera RAW or Adobe After Effects. It allows you to keyframe RAW file development parameters and then ramp them smoothly across your timelapse clips.

Adobe After Effects and Premier Pro: If you have time to burn and enjoy a steep learning curve, you may be able to get more out of your timelapse sequences by jumping in the deep end with Adobe After Effects and/or Premier Pro. If you've already got Photoshop and Lightroom and have signed up to Adobe Creative Cloud, you can get After Effects and Premier Pro as part of your subscription.

Sony Vegas: Sony Vegas comes in several different versions, including the entry level 'Movie Studio'. This allows you to enter the world of video editing without having to jump straight to the level of After Effects and Premier Pro (but you can't work directly with RAW files).