We recommend downloading the following seven apps for Milky Way photography, as they make life a whole lot easier when capturing the stars at night.
They will help you to find the perfect weather, location, stars, time of day, and time of month for stunning Milky Way photography or night sky photography.
We use iOS devices, but we’ve found the same free apps, or similar apps, for Android and Windows phones, for your convenience.
Dark Sky Finder
Light pollution is a major problem for Milky Way photography, so this app will help you to find the darkest skies near you. Users also add their favourite sites to the maps, as well as notes on what makes it such a great place to see the stars, Dark Sky Finder makes sure you’re never short of a new place to capture the Milky Way.
There are countless different weather apps available, so why use this one over Apple Weather? Or Yahoo Weather?
In our experience, this is the most accurate one on the market. When it says it’s going to rain in 20 minutes, it rains in 20 minutes, this makes it one of our go-to planning apps.
And if you plan on using it for other photography, you can actually set up custom notifications based on the weather; for example, if you’re into landscape photography and you want to capture great landscape photographs, you might want to set it to notify you after it’s rained.
This is our favourite moon app (minus the creepy music) because it gives you a visual representation of how much light the moon will be reflecting in the sky. We aim to shoot during the new moon or full moon, so it’s important that we know exactly when this is.
Sol: Sun Clock
One of our favourite apps!
This very pretty app will tell you the exact phases of light that you pass through during any day, based on your location.
It shows everything from daylight and golden hour to full darkness and astronomical dusk.
From our experience, it’s 100% accurate and essential for planning Milky Way photography.
TPE – The Photographer’s Ephemeris
This is a web and mobile app that will help you visualise how your milky way shots will be in a particular location. You can see how light falls on your spot, during both day and night, by using the sun and moon location calculator.
For example, if you want to photograph the blue boat house in Perth, WA, you can see where and when the sun will rise on a specific day. You can also check it with sunset, moonrise, etc. The Photographer’s Ephemeris also includes an iOS and Android version.
Go Sky Watch
This is the app we use for identifying stars in the sky, such as Polaris (The North Star).
You can quickly identify and locate stars, planets, constellations and more by simply pointing to the sky and letting your device rotate to tell you what you’re looking at.
It’s really handy to know what you’re taking photos of instead of finding the stars through your naked eye, and it makes you feel much more in touch with the sky above.
This reviewer says it better than I can:
“If you are into astrophotography, this is a must have app. Finding the milky way is a cakewalk with this app. You can visualize and frame your shot to perfection with photopills. There are so many other features that are useful too. Example if you have a manual lens like the Rokinon 14mm f2.8 you can use the calculator to calculate the right shutter speed for the set aperture and ISO values.”
Your Free Video Course: The Milky Way Mini Series
This article will provide you with excellent base knowledge for understanding how to capture great photos of the Milky Way, but we wanted to go one step further.
We’ve put together a free three-part video course on Milky Way photography, to help you understand how to capture those breathtaking milky way shots in no time at all.
Inside this course you’ll learn:
- Your Camera Settings – Find out the settings we use for 98% of our Milky Way Photography and how to find your ideal settings too regardless of the digital camera brand you own.
- Essential Gear – 5 inexpensive accessories that will make a world of difference to your Milky Way photography
- How to Find The Milky Way – The knowledge pros use to get the best and most breathtaking views of the Milky Way galaxy
We also have a great post on photo editing apps you should check out too!