How to photograph a meteor shower with your phone

Seeing a shooting star during one of the dozens of meteor showers a year can be a rewarding experience if you’re lucky enough to catch the spectacle of the night sky, but capturing that feeling with a smartphone can take some skill.

About 30 times a year, Earth passes a trail of debris left over from a comet or asteroid. Some of the most well-known meteor showers have been observed for thousands of years. The August Perseid meteor shower was first recorded in China 2,000 years ago.


These rapid and fleeting bursts of light can be easily seen with the naked eye as long as you are in a dark location with minimal cloud cover. According to Pixsy CEO Kain Jones, with a little finesse it’s also possible to capture the experience with your phone’s camera.

Jones shared some astrophotography tips with FOX Weather to help skygazers capture the elusive meteor shower.

Setup is key

You need to start with a basic setup to be successful for any night sky photography. You should be as far away from the city lights as possible. To find the best location, check the weather forecast. Heavy cloud cover can ruin your chances of photographing the moon or a meteor.

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“Use a tripod to keep the camera as steady as possible,” Jones said. “Situate yourself in an extremely dark environment, away from city lights, away from lamp posts, car lights. You don’t want extra light getting into the lens.”

Jones said using a timer can also help avoid blurry images.


“Hold the phone very still,” he said. “Start a timer so you don’t have to touch it. Set it for 5 seconds, step back, stay very still and really let the exposure go as long as possible.”

Astrophotography exposures can take anywhere from 5 to 30 seconds depending on what you want to capture.

Jones also recommends taking a few practice shots in a nighttime environment before your meteor shower or astronomy event.

iPhone: RAW and Night mode

The number of camera lenses and settings has increased with each version of the iPhone. The best complement for astrophotography is low-light photography and the RAW file format, Jones said.

The Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max and iPhone 14 Pro feature a night mode for low-light photography that simulates a slow shutter speed and lets in more light. Users can also opt to take photos in RAW file format, which captures the uncompressed image data, allowing more detail in your photos.

“These capture every single pixel and element of data, which can be very useful for later processing,” Jones said.

The Apple iPhone 11 Pro and newer has a night mode.

Samsung Galaxy: Night mode

According to Pixsy, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Pro and Ultra contain multiple lenses that are best suited for sharp images.

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The ultra 108-megapixel sensor works best in low-light conditions. The Pro doesn’t have the same processing power, but the bright night mode can capture good nighttime images.

Samsung explains the shutter speed and ISO settings you need to capture stars, the moon, and the Milky Way in this guide. Most require a fast shutter speed of up to 30 seconds and a high ISO.

Google Pixel: night vision

The Google Pixel 6 Pro has three lenses and a low-light mode called Night Sight. Motion mode is useful for long exposures when trying to capture multiple shooting stars during a climaxing meteor shower event.

Night Sight is available on Pixel 4a and newer phones.

You can capture time-lapse photos of the night sky on the Pixel 4 and later.

Open the Camera app and tap Night Vision. When your phone is stable on a tripod or other surface, the Astrophotography On message will appear. When you’re done, click Stop.

Use an app

Many photo apps offer more flexibility if your phone can’t adjust exposure and shutter speed.

Most popular apps require a small payment between $2.99 ​​and $25 per year to unlock full potential and settings.

NightCap is specifically designed for astrophotography and low light situations.

For $2.99, the app lets you create long exposures and adjust the ISO and aperture value. It even has settings to record shooting stars, the moon, and man-made objects in space, including the International Space Station.

Protect your images

After working so hard to capture the night sky, you want to make sure no one steals your picture from social media and claims it as their own.

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Pixsy uses reverse image search technology that monitors images on social media and websites to find out where your photos end up.

This technology can be useful for amateur photographers, professionals or even parents who want to protect their children’s pictures.

“We have airplane freaks. We have space freaks. We have astrophotographers. Yes, we have miniature photographers, flower photographers, medical photographers,” Jones said. “It’s quite interesting when you get into all the different niches of these types of subsets of photographers.”

Jones estimates that there are 7 trillion images on the internet and it is simply impossible for anyone to look everywhere to keep track of their images online.

“It’s a crazy amount, and only this technology can really help keep track of where everything is being used,” Jones said.

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