Web Services and Apps for Astrophotography

Any list of this kind is biased and this is mine...
I spent some time to filter and to sort tons of various apps, web sites and desktop software for astrophotography. In my opinion, only the choice of messaging apps is larger đŸ˜‰ Ratings are always subjective and real unbiased and good reviews take a long time. This page lists my final choices which is also biased by the fact that I use Mac OS and iOS and I’m a lazy astrophotographer trying to automate everything and bother of as less details as possible.

I have a list of links to books and other information sources on the page Astrophotography Reference List



In my option, Telescopius has the best combination of all major features on the planning side. Some folks will still miss some details, like an ability to plan mosaics (larger panoramas made of separate images), and the UX could be improved, but the rest rocks! I also use Telescopius to maintain a list of objects I would like to photograph some day.

Sign up for donation and help making Telescopius better! Telescopius is not a money making machine, it just a cool site made and driven by an enthusiast.

Astronomy Tools


I did not use the all parts much, but their Calculators are good and handy for doing some math about your equipment and compare it with alternative choices 



An image hosting and sharing services as well as a community site. Despite of this, its paid subscription plans allow searching for references images made with given equipment or people using the same equipment as you. With this, you can see what is possible. Uploading images takes some time, and I still just have a few online: https://www.astrobin.com/users/vladi/


The origin of databases and technology of the blessing computerized “Plate Solving”. Their web service is also very handy if you want to see your picture mapped on the sky. The service also adds an overlay with names sky objects on top of your picture. Pictures with a large field of view take a long time to plate solve. Be patient!




I use SkySafari Plus on iOS and Mac OS as a “what can I see now” or a “where is XYZ” tool. The “Plus” and “Pro” editions of SkySafari can also control my mount via ASIAIR and send a go-to commands. I sometimes use this, when a search in the catalog of the ASIAIR does not bring the desired results. You can also use a paid cloud service to sync your target lists and equipment parameters across devices and desktops. The desktop version is very different and less advanced than the mobile version even though it has the same name.



Luminos is much nicer to use, has much better UX than SkySafari. It can control a mount as well, but it is available for iOS only and cannot synchronize settings and target lists across devices.



Even though Luminos and SkySafari do almost the same, I observe myself that I first pick StarWalk to identify things in the night sky quickly. It starts fast and instantly runs in the “compass” mode mapping the position of the smartphone to the view in the sky. The view is nice and is not overloaded with details which are not needed most of the time anyways.

Polar Scope Align Pro

If you use iOS and a star tracker, this app is almost a must-have! It provides various very handy tools for star tracker. My favorite is the “Daytime / No Polarscope Alignment”. This uses the compass and the gyro sensor of the phone to do polar alignment. Even though this approach is not very precise, it is enough for focal lengths of 50mm and shorter. The author of the app has a nice blog with various hints, tips and reviews.

Desktop software

Navigation and Planning

On MacOS I stared using Stellarium more than SkySafari mentioned above. It is very powerful and has much better and richer visual presentation than SkySafari. Stellarium has a mobile app too, which is getting better and better. Unfortunately, the mobile and the desktop apps cannot exchange data and synchronize. Due to this, all what you planned on desktop needs to be transferred and taken to the field in one or another form. I did not find or make an way for automation here yet.


It was a long story… in which I ended up using PixInsight, Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop and Bridge. My second choice was and still is the Astro Pixel Processor, but its UI made is in Java and it is hard to use on my 13″ MacBook Pro. Addtionally, I apparently was not patient enough to understand its terminology and the workflow. In my experience, free-ware tools fall far behind commercial software in one or another aspect. Processing in astrophotography takes quite some time. It makes a lot of sense to have good tools and make it more efficient and pleasant to use.

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1 Comment
  1. Wow! I totally agree that Telescopius.com is a best combination of many important features and tools when planning for Astrophotography. I must admit that Telescopius.com and the desktop app Stellarium has helped me a lot when I was an infant in this hobby. Even today, believe me, my AP session always starts with both, the Telescopius.com and the Stellarium running on my laptop. The another best and the main tool I am using is Stellarmate OS on Raspberry Pi-4. They all complement each-other and makes my AP session successful :-). I am not towards wasting my dollars on Astrobin.com, though I still use it sometimes to browse through the sample of astro-photos shot by each different camera available in market.

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