The art of astrophotography is a pursuit that requires real precision. Not only do astrophotographers need to be well-prepared – as the discipline requires a lot of specialized kit – they also need a lot of patience, as they often have to hang around waiting for ideal shooting conditions. The best in the field are able to capture the night skies with a sense of wonder while also offering a scientific portrayal of their subjects.
While you may have aspirations to take your own astro and night sky photos, for some the satisfaction comes from seeing the incredible work others produce. To that end, we’ve gathered up the most inspiring astrophotography accounts on Instagram, and listed them below. Simply check them out, and give them a follow, to get some brilliant astro work direct to your feed.
If you want to give it a try yourself, we have a series of how to guide features to get you started, including a beginners guide to astrophotography, how to photograph the moon, and how and where to shoot the aurora.
1. Vincent Bouchama
Bouchama was runner-up in the 2021 Astronomy Photographer Of The Year competition, which is organized by Royal Museums Greenwich. His image, ‘The Sun Sharing Its Crown With A Comet,’ is shown below and was shot in Río Negro, Argentina. Bouchama has managed to create an image that is both dramatic and detailed, highlighting the delicate lines of the comet. He is able to show us what a wide range of events a solar eclipse can offer to the eye and how paying attention to little touches can lift an image from something ordinary to something wonderful. He possesses a great eye for creating symmetrical night sky images, which almost look otherworldly in their portrayal.
2. Sean Parker
Sean Parker is a professional photographer and time lapse photographer based in Tucson Arizona. His work has been published by the likes of the New York Times and the Smithsonian in Washington. Parker used to work as a computer technician, which gives him an extra understanding of electronics. His use of single exposure photography to shoot the night skies gives his work extra impact. He is happy to spend many hours alone in the desert waiting for the perfect moment to get his shot.
3. Navaneeth Unnikrishnan
Unnikrishnan is an amateur Indian deep space photographer, who captures both the majesty of the night skies and the beauty of landscapes. It was seeing the Milky Way from his backyard that made him fall in love with astrophotography. He started out in his journey by using a digital SLR, but now he works with many of the world’s top brands including Sony and Manfrotto. He shoots a range of deep sky objects from nebulae to galaxies, adopting a kind of ethereal approach to astrophotography.
4. Manuel Dietrich
Dietrich is a German professional landscape photographer who brings his love of landscapes to the forefront of his astrophotography. His shots are always dramatic and he is able to distil a real sense of the infinite into his photos. Dietrich also works closely with Adobe and has themed Lightroom presets available to buy, if you’re looking to emulate his style. He is able to place buildings very much alongside the night skies that he photographs, contextualising their place in this vast universe. His travel photography to places like Europe and Australia shows off his expert grasp of astrophotography as well.
5. Wayne Pinkston
An American night skies photographer, Pinkston initially started to shoot astrophotography as a way of capturing the Milky Way from the Grand Canyon. He uses his photography as a way of capturing the different colors of the system and frequently uses low level lighting to get his images.
6. Tracy Lee
Lee is a US-based night skies photographer who sells her photos as NFTs and has a true eye for dramatic composition. She is able to bring a real sense of wonder to all of her subjects and specifically loves to shoot the Milky Way in all of its glory. In such a male-dominated field, Lee has carved out a niche for herself as a female astrophotographer. Read our women in astrophotography piece to discover more female artists working in this discipline.
7. Connor Matherne
Matherne is a planetary scientist who specializes in shooting phenomena like The Horsehead and Flame Nebula. He is currently based at Louisiana State University and he has been shortlisted for the Astronomy Photographer of The year in 2018 and 2019. His work has a vivid quality to it, offering drama, majesty and a sense of scale. He also understands good composition and framing of his shots.
8. Jeffrey Powers
Based in Washington state in the US’s Pacific Northwest, Powers is a photographer who grew up in Northern California and who enjoys spending time in the outdoors. For him, photography and astrophotography is about telling a story with bold images. It is also about getting the audience to ask significant questions about what’s going on in his shots.
9. Sergio Vindas
Vindas is a Costa Rican photographer currently based in Lima, Peru. His work is designed to showcase the beautiful symmetry of nature, whether that’s in landscapes or up in the night skies. He also strives to give us a slightly different approach to his subjects showing us just how the skies offer a visual counterpoint to the lands that surround them. His night sky photographs are full of mystery and enigma while still looking alluring to the eye. There is a real tranquillity and peace to his photography
10. Shuchang Dong
Winner of the Astronomy Photographer Of The Year from Royal Museums Greenwich, Dong, like all good astro photographers, knows that capturing a great image is all about timing. They’re a photographer who is able to capture the majesty of an event like a solar eclipse but also able to offer a different image to one we are used to seeing. Their Instagram account is fairly small at the moment, with only six images – but we can likely expect plenty more from this incredible photographer.