7 Best Astrophotography Software for Night Sky [2024]

Lightroom for astrophotography

Astrophotography requires careful planning, attention to detail, specialized equipment, and importantly, specialised astrophotography software.

These specialised software tools can help in processing, enhancing, and analyzing your astrophotography images.

With advancements in camera technology and a plethora of software options available, capturing breathtaking images of the cosmos has become more accessible than ever before.

Let’s have a look at a few pieces of software that will come in handy for any astrophotographer.

Read more: 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Processing Star Photos

1. Stellarium Mobile

Stellarium Mobile is a mobile version of the popular desktop astronomy software Stellarium.

It features a realistic 3D simulation of the night sky, including stars, constellations, planets, deep sky objects, etc., and allows users to customize the app’s settings to match their location and preferences.

best astrophotography software

The app includes detailed information about each object, making it an excellent educational tool. Stellarium Mobile also has a night mode that prevents you from losing dark adaption.

Especially if you’re a beginner, you will find Stellarium very useful in finding your way around the night sky.

Even if you are a more advanced astrophotographer, you will still find it useful when trying to photograph an elusive comet, for example, and you need a detailed map of a specific area of the night sky.

The basic app is free, but you will have to pay a small fee to benefit from all its features.

Read more: How to Plan an Astrophotography Shoot

2. Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are popular image-editing software used by photographers around the world.

If you are into photography, most likely you already have them on your computer. They are subscription-based but not expensive.

Adobe Lightroom is probably the most popular RAW image converter in the world. Besides converting from RAW to JPG or TIFF, Lightroom is an amazing tool for enhancing your astrophotos.

From colour correction to noise reduction, Lightroom has you covered. You can also use Lightroom for stitching images into a panorama or creating HDR views of an astronomical event.

For me, Lightroom is definitely the software I use the most in astrophotography.

Lightroom for astrophotography

Adobe Photoshop is an excellent tool for astrophotography, especially for adding some finishing touches to your images.

Photoshop has several tools for adjusting and enhancing images, including levels, curves, and colour balance.

photoshop astrophotography software

It can also be used for image stacking (it’s not the most straightforward process in Photoshop, but it can be done if you don’t have any other software available) and noise reduction.

Although Photoshop is not specifically designed for astrophotography, it is a powerful tool that can be used for all kinds of image processing.

To make it easier for you, have a look at Photoshop actions such as Milky Way Finisher by photographingspace.com.

Read more: How to Stack Star Photos to Reduce Noise in Photoshop

3. PixInsight

PixInsight is a powerful and specialised image processing software designed specifically for astrophotography.

It offers a wide range of advanced features and algorithms that are ideal for processing and enhancing images of the night sky.

The software is not free but it is updated regularly with new processes that make it even more powerful. I’ve been using PixInsight since its first version and it remains my favourite software for deep-sky astrophotography.

One of the key features of PixInsight is its advanced image processing capabilities. Its many tools include background equalisation, noise reduction, colour correction and image stacking capabilities, among others.

astrophotography software recommendations

PixInsight also offers a wide range of tools and features for creating and processing calibration frames, which are essential for astrophotography.

Calibration frames include dark frames, flat frames and bias frames, which help to correct for sensor noise and other imperfections in the final image.

PixInsight supports multiple file formats, including FITS and RAW, and can be used for both deep-sky and planetary imaging.

Additionally, the program includes tools for working with specific types of astrophotography images, such as narrowband images captured with specialised filters.

You might find PixInsight a bit daunting in the beginning and I suggest to take your time to understand the various algorithms and the right time to use them during your image processing workflow.

In order to make it easier for you, I strongly advise you to have a look at Rogelio Bernal Andreo’s book on PixInsight and at the many tutorials available on different websites.

4. StarStaX

StarStaX is a piece of software developed specifically for stacking individual shots into star trails. The software is very intuitive and I don’t even think it needs a manual.

astrophotography software to use

You just dump your individual frames into the software, click the button labelled Start Processing, wait a little bit and you have a beautiful photo that shows the apparent rotation of the sky.

StarStaX is free and can be downloaded from starstax.net. It works both on Windows and Mac OS X.

Read more: Star Trails – How to Take Captivating Night Sky Photos

5. RegiStax

RegiStax is a free software designed specifically for processing planetary, solar and lunar images.

The software features advanced alignment and stacking algorithms that allow you to create stunning images of the Moon, the planets, or the Sun.

It uses advanced algorithms to align and stack images, resulting in a final image that is free of blurs, noise, and other artefacts.

astrophotography software must haves

RegiStax also has advanced features for wavelet sharpening, contrast enhancement, and colour balancing, making it an ideal choice for processing planetary and lunar images.

If you want to be proficient at planetary imaging, have a look at a piece of software called Win Jupos too. 

Unfortunately, most (if not all) good software dedicated to Solar System photographers is Windows. If you work on a Mac, you will need to find a solution to accommodate such software.

6. Polar Scope Align Pro

When first using an equatorial mount, polar alignment is probably the most dreadful step in setting it up.

Polar Scope Align Pro is a smartphone app that makes polar alignment a walk in the park.

polar align app astrophotography software

It shows where to position Polaris (The North Star) in the field of your polar scope so that the equatorial mount is perfectly aligned to the Celestial Pole.

Practically any polar scope reticle you can think of is provided and even older iterations of current scopes are available. The app is very easy to set up and saves you a lot of time with polar alignment.

Read more: The Best Equipment for Star Photography

7. Solar Eclipse Maestro

If you’re an avid solar eclipse chaser, Solar Eclipse Maestro is for you.

It will be very tough to photograph everything that happens during those few minutes of totality. Especially if you want to shoot both wide angle shots and telescopic/telephoto views.

A very wise idea is to automate your shooting process at long focal lengths.

astrophotography software you need to have

That can be done by placing your telephoto/telescope on a star tracker and connecting your camera to a laptop. There are software that can take care of your shots. If you have a Mac, use Xavier Jubier’s Solar Eclipse Maestro.

It will need a bit of programming on your side but nothing difficult. Test the scripts over and over again until everything works as planned.

You can program every parameter of a photograph from the precise time of shooting to the ISO and exposure time.

If you are a Windows user, Eclipse Orchestrator can be used in a similar way.

Read more: How to Photograph Solar Eclipses

In conclusion 

Choosing the best software for astrophotography depends on your personal preferences and budget.

Adobe Lightroom is a popular choice among astrophotographers due to its wide range of tools and features and is most likely the only software you’ll ever need if you only do landscape astrophotography.

PixInsight is a specialised software designed specifically for astrophotography and is widely regarded as one of the best astrophotography software available in the market.

RegiStax is a free software designed specifically for processing planetary and lunar images.

Whichever software you choose, make sure you spend some time learning how to use it effectively to get the most out of your astrophotography images. And remember to post-process your images in a natural and delightful way.

Clear skies!

Download our free ebook
Grab Our FREE eBook!

Get our best tutorials sent straight to you, and enjoy a copy of "10 Ways to INSTANTLY Improve Your Nature Photos".

Get Free Ebook