Astro Photography vs Night Sky

I sometimes catch up with friends who are also interested in photography. In one of those catch ups this year, I was talking about my night sky photography and my friend interjected (maybe once) correcting me when I used the term Night Sky photography. He tried to allude that it was astro-photography. By no means do I consider myself to be the truth bearer, but I disagree with his point of view and/or definition.

Some people use the terms interchangeably. Others, like my friend, think that taking photos that include the stars are astro-photography (or that’s what I interpreted from his interjection).

In my definition of astro/astral photography and night sky photography, the equipment would be significantly different. For night sky photography, you would want to use wide angle lenses, to allow you to capture as much of the night sky and a foreground as possible. With astro-photography, you would want something that would help you zoom into individual parts of the sky, such as a strong telephoto lens, like Big Bertha, or a telescope. The purpose of the acquisition of the Sigma 20mm lens was night sky photography.

I personally think that both are incorrect, or better: neither would be the way I interpret the given terms. The way I see it: astro-photography is when you take photos of the elements in the night sky such as the moon, or specific galaxies and constellations; and night sky photography as night time photos where the milky way and the stars (with or without trails) are a backdrop that is part of a composition.

I’ve started trying to do night sky photography by first trying to take photos where the stars were visible. Making sure I got the stars, moons and galaxies bright and beautiful (even if you can’t make them out individually). Most of my photos so far have had no real foreground subject, the focus was trying to get a non-blurry/trailing background. Now that I have successfully done a few of those, I will start bringing in foreground elements to enhance the photographic experience to the viewers. I hope I am successful this weekend in achieving this task.

Note: the hero image is my first attempt at night sky photography back in 2019.

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