Below you’ll find the list of currently used programs for Astrophotography. There’s a lot out there, all covering each step of the process. We all need to plan our sessions under the stars. There’s acquisition software, for when you are actually under the stars collecting data. There’s also processing. I’ll also link a few websites that are great for sharing your images if you had planned on it!
Because this is intended to be a master list, if you know of something I missed, please reach out to me with the price, operating system, and a brief description and I’ll add it to the list!
This list is also subject to change based on availability. As new software is developed and old software is discontinued, this list will be updated to reflect that. Prices are as of the latest update to this page.
Planetarium software that lets you see where things are in the night sky. Non-mobile versions are customizable to allow you to add your landscape and astronomy gear.
Cartes du Ciel – Free – Windows/Mac/Linux
Charting program that helps you plan targets for the night.
Photopils – Free – Apple/Android
Photo planning app that helps with exposure calculators, augmented reality to show the location of the sun, moon, and milky way, and a map planner to show the direction of the milky way.
Google Maps – Free – Website/Mobile app
You need to know how to get where you are going! Street view is also useful to see if trees are in the skyline where you are imaging.
Light Pollution Map – Free – Website
Astrophotography is better under dark skies. This map helps you find them.
AstroPlanner – Free- $130 based on license package – Windows/Mac
Planning software that lets users build a list of objects to view, then control mounts to slew to them.
Below are a few charts and websites to help determine if the weather is clear. All of them have a website and app version for mobile devices except ClearSkyChart. Using them in combination with each other and your go-to weather app (such as accuweather or weather.com) should help you decide if the night will be a good, clear night!
Astrophotography Tool – 18.70 EUR/ $21.15 USD – Windows Only
Full control suite for cameras, mounts, and accessories. Integrates with multiple other programs for their features. Compatible with Canon and Nikon DSLR’s and most CMOS and CCD cameras.
NINA – Free – Windows Only
Similar to APT, full control suite with compatibility for most cameras.
Sequence Generator Pro – Free lite version/ $149 USD with $60 yearly subscription for Pro version – Windows only
Similar to APT and NINA, SGP is a full control suite that offers similar capabilities as the previous two.
PHD2 – Free – Windows/Mac
Software that controls guide cameras. Integrates well with quite a few other programs to make imaging easier.
SharpCap – Free/$18USD per year for Pro version – Windows Only
Control suite for primarily solar system imaging, but is capable of imaging Deep Sky Objects and mount control
Firecapture Free – Windows/Mac/Linux/Raspberry Pi
Camera controller for capturing images and video of solar system objects.
Both developed by the same developer, these programs are designed to let you control your DSLR from your PC for sequencing long exposure shots. Not full control however, you will need to use programs such as PHD2 for guiding and mount control. Most cameras by both brands are compatible with the programs.
Voyager 29 EUR/ $31.57 USD or 129 EUR / $140.43 USD based on version – Windows but compatible in Mac on PARALLELS virtual environment
Voyager is a complete control software suite. Doing everything above programs can do, this program also has the ability to control motorized domes and planetarium software. This program is more for professional use as opposed to amateur use, but well worth it if you built an automated observatory. Do note that there are more license versions fitting for clubs and multiple locations.
ASIAIR App Free – Android and iOS devices
Mobile app used to control the ASI AIR device. The ASI AIR is an all in one control device for your cameras and mount.
Deep Sky Stacker Free – Windows Only
Stacking program for stacking your deep sky photos. Stacks all frames and aligns features of the image such as stars and deep sky objects into one image to be processed in other programs.
Sequator Free – Windows Only
Similar to Deep Sky Stacker, this program is for stacking deep sky images. It also has the ability to stack starry landscape pictures.
StarryLandscapeStacker $39.99 USD – Mac Only
Similar to Sequator, but for Mac, but used only to stack landscape images.
StarrySkyStacker $39.99 USD – Mac Only
Similar to DeepSkyStacker, but for Mac.
Powerful photo editors widely used in all forms of photography and graphic design. Specifically for Astrophotography, there are many plugins for Photoshop that help with processing your photos. Both programs have some similar features and some different features. Lightroom is able to manage your photo library while Photoshop can’t, for example. Some subscriptions include both programs for a reduced price.
GIMP Free – Windows/Mac/Linux
Open source photo editor very similar to Photoshop.
Pixinsight 250 EUR/ $272.71 USD – Windows/Mac/Linux
Powerful editing program developed specifically for astrophotography. Not only can you edit, you can stack your raw images and process all the way to completion within Pixinsight. Multiple plugins are available to speed processing up as well.
SiriL Free – Windows/Mac/Linux
Open source program very similar to Pixinsight with many of the same capabilities.
AstroPixelProcessor 60 EUR / $65.45 USD per year or 165 EUR / $179.99 USD for permanent license – Windows/Mac/Linux
Similar to Pixinsight, APP is a suite for editing astro photos from start to finish.
PIPP Free – Windows/Mac/Linux
PIPP is used for the beginning steps of processing solar system images. Some solar system images are taken with video first before turning them into a still image, and PIPP crops and selects the best frames from the video or batch of images.
AutoStakkert Free – Windows Only, but can be ran in Mac and Linux using Wine
Autostakkert takes the images pulled from PIPP and stacks them into one image. Similar to Deep Sky Stacker, but for solar system objects.
Registax Free – Windows Only, but does run on Linux using Wine
Similar to Autostakkert, aligns and stacks solar system images
Aside from sharing on social media websites such as Facebook and Instagram, there are a few other websites that are more focused on this hobby:
Varying from Free to $65 USD per year, astrobin is an Astrophotography-centric image sharing website. Subscriptions help the developers with the cost of hosting images, and the most expensive allows for uploading very high resolution photos.
Within the ASI AIR app, ZWO has made a website similar to Astrobin, but specifically for ZWO product users.
The community on Reddit is quite large, and that specific subreddit is great for sharing your images. Please do keep in mind that the moderators of the subreddit require you to post your gear and processing steps to help newcomers out. Reddit does accept images from websites such as Astrobin and Imgur.