The art of astrophotography is a search that requires real precision. Astrophotographers not only need to be well prepared, as the discipline requires a lot of specialized equipment, but they also need a lot of patience, as they often have to wait for the ideal conditions to shoot. The best in the field are able to capture the night skies with a sense of wonder while offering a scientific description of their subjects.
While you may have aspirations to take your own photos of the star and night sky, for some the satisfaction comes from seeing the incredible work others produce. To that end, we’ve compiled the most inspiring astrophotography accounts on Instagram and listed them below. Just check them out and follow up for brilliant astronomical work straight to your feed.
If you’d like to try it out for yourself, we’ve got a number of guide features to get you started, including a beginner’s guide to astrophotography, how to photograph the moon, and how and where to photograph the aurora.
1. Vincent Bouchama
Bouchama was runner-up in the 2021 Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest, organized by the Royal Museums of Greenwich. His image, ‘The sun sharing its crown with a comet’, is shown below and was taken in Río Negro, Argentina. Bouchama has managed to create a dramatic and detailed image, highlighting the delicate lines of the comet. He is able to show us the wide range of events that a solar eclipse can bring to the eye and how paying attention to small touches can elevate an image from something ordinary to something wonderful. He possesses a great eye for creating symmetrical images of the night sky, which almost seem otherworldly in his representation.
2. Sean Parker
Sean Parker is a professional photographer and time lapse photographer based in Tucson, Arizona. His work has been published by the New York Times and the Smithsonian in Washington. Parker used to work as a computer technician, which gives him an additional understanding of electronics. His use of single exposure photography to photograph the night skies gives his work added impact. He is happy to spend many hours alone in the desert waiting for the perfect moment to shoot.
3. Navaneeth Unnikrishnan
Unnikrishnan is an Indian amateur deep space photographer who captures both the majesty of 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 his journey using a digital SLR but now works with many of the world’s leading brands, including Sony and Manfrotto. Shoot a variety of deep sky objects, from nebulae to galaxies, taking a kind of ethereal approach to astrophotography.
4. Manuel Dietrich
Dietrich is a professional German landscape photographer who brings his love of landscapes to the forefront of his astrophotography. His shots are always dramatic and he is able to distill a true sense of infinity in his photos. Dietrich also works closely with Adobe and has Lightroom themed presets available to purchase, if you’re looking to emulate their style. He is able to place buildings very close to the night skies he photographs, contextualizing his place in this vast universe. His photography of trips to places like Europe and Australia also shows his expert knowledge of astrophotography.
5. Wayne Pinkston
Pinkston, an American night sky photographer, initially began taking astrophotography as a way to capture the Milky Way from the Grand Canyon. He uses his photography as a way to capture the different colors of the system and often uses low-level lighting to obtain his images.
6. Tracy Lee
Lee is a US-based night sky photographer who sells her photos as NFT and has a keen eye for dramatic composition. She is able to bring a true sense of wonder to all of her subjects and specifically loves to photograph the Milky Way in all its glory. In a field so dominated by men, Lee has carved a niche for herself as an astrophotographer. Read our piece on women in astrophotography 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 currently resides at Louisiana State University and has been shortlisted for Astronomy Photographer of the Year in 2018 and 2019. His work has a vivid quality, 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 Pacific Northwest of the USA, Powers is a photographer who grew up in Northern California and enjoys spending time outdoors. For him, photography and astrophotography is about telling a story with daring images. It’s also about getting the audience to ask important questions about what’s going on in your shots.
9. Sergio Vindas
Vindas is a Costa Rican photographer who currently lives in Lima, Peru. His work is designed to show the beautiful symmetry of nature, whether in landscapes or in the night sky. He also strives to give us a slightly different approach to his subjects by showing us how the skies offer a visual counterpoint to the lands around them. His photographs of the night sky are full of mystery and enigma and, at the same time, they look attractive to the eye. There is a true tranquility and peace in your photography.
10. Shuchang Dong
Winner of the Royal Museums of Greenwich Astronomy Photographer of the Year, Dong, like all good astronomy photographers, knows that capturing a great image is a matter of time. He is a photographer who is capable of capturing the majesty of an event such as a solar eclipse but also capable of offering a different image than the one we are used to seeing. His Instagram account is quite small at the moment, with only six images, but we can probably expect a lot more from this incredible photographer.