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How To Photograph The Moon: Ultimate (UPDATED) Guide

Sooner or later, we will all try to get a photo of the Moon, and why shouldn’t we? After all, it seems to be such an easy target: it is bright, it is big, and we can see it up there at night as well as during the day.

But where to start from and how to avoid getting a disappointing white, blurred and featureless blob of light?

This guide will help you to learn how to shoot the Moon, what to look for and what gear and techniques to use to improve your Moon photography with ease.

The Moon
The Moon.

Is It Hard To Photograph The Moon?

If you have never photographed the Moon before, I’d say it is fairly easy to get a satisfying image, particularly if you are used to taking photos with your phone.

Consider the image below. The top image was snapped with my iPhone: the Moon is a featureless blob of light and the only interesting thing is Pleiades which are visible. 

The Moon photographed with iPhone and Panasonic DMC-TZ57
The Moon photographed with my iPhone (top) and the entry-level point and shoot camera Panasonic DMC-TZ57.

The bottom image, instead, was taken with the Panasonic DMC-TZ57 of my son: a 20x superzoom point & shoot camera (480mm): the Maria are clearly visible, and you also get to see a hint of the largest craters. 

Until you don’t pixel peep these images you can be pretty happy with the result.

But if you already have some experience, you start to look more at image quality: getting a grainy glimpse of the lunar craters is not enough anymore. You want to see them crisp, detailed, and clean. 

Improving your photography at this level is more challenging, both in terms of equipment and in your technical and editing skills.

Photographing the moon
From photographing the Moon with a point-and-shoot camera to portraying individual craters, it can be a long journey as you step into the realm of telescopes and planetary cameras.

Types Of Moon Shots

But why should I invest time and money for better gear to image the Moon? Once I get it right once, that’s it. Game over, right?

This is a bit of the common objection to investing time and money in lunar and planetary astrophotography: after all, the number of things you can see and photograph is puny compared to what deep-sky astrophotography has to offer.

But the reality is that the Moon offers plenty of interesting photographic opportunities, many of which share the same challenges from using a long focal length. 

But don’t fear: Moon photography is well within reach of beginners and amateur photographers on a budget. 

Still not convinced? Here is a short list of what you could do with the Moon.

Lunar Disc: The Ever-Changing Face Of The Moon


  • Get a sharp image
  • Focus

What you need

  • Long telephoto lens (400mm or more)
  • Fast enough shutter speed to freeze the seeing (ideally 1/100 or faster)
  • Shoot in manual
  • Shoot for image stacking (RAW or video)

We all know the Moon orbits the Earth once in a Month and that it always shows us the same face (the near side of the Moon). 

See? Boring. I was right.

No, you are not, because during its orbit, sunlight illuminates the Moon in different ways, creating different contrasts on the lunar surfaces, making craters and mountain ranges pop into view.

The Moon in three phases - Full, Waxing Gibbous, and 1st quarter
The Moon in three different phases: Full (left), Waxing Gibbous (center), and 1st quarter (right). Olympus Zuiko OM 200 f/4 + Olympus Zuiko 2-XA teleconverter on Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mk ii

Not much different than how a landscape looks different throughout the day, depending on the position of the Sun in the sky.

Ok, but after one month, I saw all there is to be seen, right? 

Not quite: the Moon also has a libration motion. In time, we get to see a bit more than the expected 50% of the lunar surface, so no two months are exactly the same.

The Moon libration motion and phases.

Oh, one more thing: the lunar surface has colors too 🙂

The Mineral Moon
The Mineral Moon: the colors shown here are real and come from the different compositions of the lunar surface. Olympus Zuiko OM 200 f/4 + Olympus Zuiko 2-XA teleconverter on Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mk ii.

Closeups: The Moon In Details


  • Get a sharp image
  • Focus
  • Track the Moon

What you need

  • Telescope and barlow lenses to rich at least 2500 mm
  • Fast enough shutter speed to freeze the seeing (ideally 1/100 or faster)
  • Shoot in manual
  • Shoot for image stacking (RAW or video)

The Moon is actually a tiny planet sitting in our cosmic backyard and there is a lot to see: impact basins, mountain ranges, mountain peaks, impact craters, valleys, rimae, etc.

A close-up of the area of the moon
A close-up of the area including the Sinus Iridum (also known as the Golden Handle), Plato crater, and the Vallis Alpes, Montes Teneriffe, and more. Skywatcher Skymax 90/1250, Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mk ii.

After all, craters are what capture our attention the most, right? And there are lots of them to visit.

The Daytime Moon


  • Get a sharp image
  • Focus
  • Get enough contrast between the Moon and the bright sky

What you need

  • Long telephoto lens (400mm or more)
  • Fast enough shutter speed to freeze the seeing (ideally 1/100 or faster)
  • Shoot in manual
  • Shoot for image stacking (RAW or video)

The Moon is so bright you can even photograph it at dusk, at dawn, and even in broad daylight.

Daylight Moon
Daylight Moon. Single-shot handheld with Olympus Zuiko OM 300 f/4.5 + Olympus Zuiko 2-XA teleconverter and Olympus E-PL6 camera.

If you are looking to give your Moon photography a different look, try capturing our companion in daylight: it will look quite different.

Early morning is probably the best time for the daylight Moon, as the air is steadier.

The Shadowed Moon: Lunar Eclipses


  • Get a sharp image
  • Focus
  • Timing
  • Capturing the many effects briefly visible while the eclipse unfold
  • Exposures will be longer than usual, so a good seeing is a must
  • Track the Moon

What you need

  • Long telephoto lens (400mm or more)
  • A fast lens as the Moon is dimmer
  • Shoot in manual
  • Shoot for image stacking (RAW or video)

Many people grow a sudden interest in the Moon when they know an eclipse is coming up and this is, indeed quite a view.

Every now and then our Planet will sit exactly in between the Moon and the Sun, thus shadowing the Moon. When this happens, you are looking at a lunar eclipse.

The mechanism creating the lunar eclipses
This scheme illustrates the mechanism creating the lunar eclipses.

A lunar eclipse can be partial, if only a part of the Moon is in Earth’s shadow or total, if the whole Moon is inside Earth’s shadow. 

The unfolding of the total lunar eclipse in January 2019
The unfolding of the total lunar eclipse back in January 2019. Olympus Zuiko OM 200 f/4 + Olympus Zuiko OM 2-XA teleconverter and Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mk ii camera.

Many interesting things can be photographed and observed during an eclipse, such as:

  1. A red full moon: the Moon is dimly lit by sunlight reflected in space from Earth’s atmosphere (Earthshine) and this allows you to photograph stars around the Moon
  2. The Turquoise Effect, when part of the Moon gets a magnificent turquoise color
The Turquoise Effect is visible during a total lunar eclipse
The Turquoise Effect is briefly visible during a total lunar eclipse. Olympus Zuiko OM 200 f/4 + Olympus Zuiko OM 2-XA teleconverter and Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mk ii camera.

Moon Conjunctions 


  • Get a sharp image
  • Focus
  • Timing
  • You may need to do HDR, bracketing, or create composite images to photograph each target at its best

What you need

  • Fast enough shutter speed to freeze the seeing if you use high magnification (ideally 1/100 or faster)
  • Shoot in manual
  • Shoot for image stacking (RAW or video)

While wandering the night sky, sometimes the Moon can appear to get close to stars, galaxies and other planets. 

Moon-Mars conjunction
A not too tight Moon-Mars conjunction. Single-shot with Olympus E-PL6 and Samyang 85 f/1.8.

Because of the different brightness you may have between the subjects in conjunction, you may need to do some bracketing or HDR.

The most spectacular and rarest images of a lunar conjunction, to me, are those where a planet is seen rising from behind the Moon—still trying to get one of those myself.

Forced Perspective: The Moon In Background


  • Find a nice landscape
  • Keep the landscape visible
  • Get the right time and location
  • Focusing
  • Be creative

What you need

  • A telescope or spotting scope for forced perspective with the largest possible moon
  • Shoot in manual
  • Shoot in RAW

In the same way you can photograph Mercury and Venus transiting in front of the Sun, you can photograph man-made objects traveling in front of the Moon. 

Capturing the silhouette of a plane flying in front of the Moon is nice, but the real challenge is probably photographing the transit of the ISS or the Hubble telescope. 

A plane transiting in front of the crescent Moon
A plane transiting in front of the crescent Moon. Olympus Zuiko OM 300 f/4.5 + Olympus Zuiko OM 2-XA teleconverter and Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mk ii camera. 

You need to plan for these shots and you will most probably fail 9 times out of ten. 

But when you finally do nail it, you’ll get a hugely rewarding Moon shot.

Forced perspective is another trick you can use to create stunning Moon shots: have you ever seen images of people or monuments standing in silhouette in front of a huge rising Moon?

An attempt at forced perspective.
My attempt at forced perspective. I wanted the Moon to be larger than the lion in the foreground, but I could not get far enough to nail the effect. Canon EOS 50D with Sigma 100-400 f/5.6-6.3 and Tamron 2X teleconverter.

Or more creative images where a person is playing with the Moon or using it as a prop?

The concept is easy: the Moon is so far away that wherever you are on Earth does not change its size in the frame. But your distance from the subject you want to put in front of the Moon will affect its size in the frame with respect to that of the Moon.

The concepts behind forced perspective
The scheme illustrates the concepts behind forced perspective.

Use a focal length long enough and put a few km between you and the subject in the foreground to get a person in silhouette standing “inside” the Moon.

The Use Of The Moon In Landscape Photography

If you are after getting a landscape with a magnificent Milky Way stretching above it, having the Moon high in the sky may not be ideal. 

But don’t dismiss it just yet: if you can plan your shot so that the Moon is low at the horizon, it will naturally lit the whole landscape. And this is true for any type of starry landscapes and star trails.

The Moon highlighted the landscape in the foreground
While not in the image, the Moon highlighted the landscape in the foreground for a more balanced and compelled image.

As with any landscape photography, make sure you have an interesting foreground and use the Moon (or the stars) as a graphical element to balance your composition.

And don’t forget to have fun 🙂

Having fun with the Moon during an astrophotography session
Having fun with the Moon during a long deep-sky astrophotography session.

Planning For Your Moon Photographs

Photographing the Moon can be as easy and casual as looking up, grab your camera, and snap a photo or two. 

A bit more of planning, though, is needed for photographing:

  1. Lunar Eclipses
  2. Lunar Transits (ISS)
  3. Lunar Conjunctions
  4. forced Perspectives for starry landscapes

If you need to plan for your shot, you should consider:

  • Weather Forecast
  • Moon phase
  • The Moon position in the sky for composition
  • Suitable gear

Whether you are planning to go to a location or to photograph a particular event, you better keep an eye on the weather forecasts.

Clear Outside app for iOS and Android devices is a great tool, as it will let you know forecasts for the seeing by considering temperature, humidity, fog, cloud layers, frost, and telling you when the Moon will be in the sky.

Clear Outside App
Clear Outside App is a great tool to plan your astrophotography sessions.

It can also tell you when the ISS will be visible from your chosen location, although it will not tell you if it will transit in front of the Moon.

Moon calendar, as well as Clear Outside and all major apps for astronomy/astrophotography can tell you when the Moon will rise, peak and set, the Moon phase, the amount of illumination and the Moon age in days (this is the amount of days elapsed from the previous New Moon).

To play with a forced perspective, you want the Moon to be full, but when you are focusing on photography of the Moon alone, particularly if you want to get a close-up of a specific region of the lunar surface, knowing the moon phase is a must.

The Moon Globe app for iOS and Android can help you in this as it shows how the lunar surface changes appearance with the changing of the phase. 

The Moon Globe App
The Moon Globe App is an invaluable tool if you are passionate about the Moon.

With the Full Moon, light is frontal and you have very little contrast, so the Moon looks flat. But the more sideways the illumination is, the more the lunar surface looks three-dimensional and detailed.

Finally, have you ever stood in front of a cityscape or landscape thinking: “Wow, if I could get a photo with the Moon hovering right there, it would be amazing!”.

“Right there” may be right above a mountain peak or between two skyscrapers or behind a tree on a cliff edge.

But how to know if and when the Moon will be in the right position? The PhotoPills and The Photographer Ephemeris (TPE) planner apps will let you know exactly that (among the rest).

The AstroPills (left) and TPE (right) apps
The AstroPills (left) and TPE (right) apps allow, among the rest, to plan your shot by telling you where the Moon will be visible from your location for a given date and time.

These are invaluable apps to plan your photographic event or trip. 

Finally, there is the gear to consider. For example, with forced perspective, you want to have a very long focal lens or telescope, in the order of 1000mm or more. 

Gear For Moon Photography: What You Will Need

So, what gear do you need to photograph the Moon? Interestingly, in the beginning you can do quite a lot on a budget, mostly using the camera/lenses you may already have or by getting an entry-level telescope or even an old legacy telephoto zoom.


The Moon is often so bright you should not worry about low light performances of your camera, and even bridge cameras sporting 1”-type sensors are perfectly fine to begin with.

The Nikon P900 and P1000 and the latest Sony RX10  are arguably the best bridge camera for Moon shots, as they sport superzoom lenses with a very long reach. 

When it comes to DSLR and Mirrorless cameras, any model will do. If your camera has a good video mode, manual mode, and can shoot in RAW, that is even better.

Once you know you really are into Moon (and Planetary) photography, you will need to move towards a dedicated planetary camera for best results, such as the SVBONY SV305 or the highly praised ZWO ASI 224 MC.


If you want to photograph the Moon alone, not as part of a starry landscape or for forced perspective, you should use at least a 200mm lens to start getting the major lunar features (maria) visible.

The Moon on a full-frame camera at different focal lengths
This is how big the Moon will look on a full-frame camera at different focal lengths.

Because the Moon is so bright, you do not need to have a fast, long, telephoto lens and anything from f/5.6 to f/8 will do most of the time.

With a 400mm lens, particularly on a crop sensor camera,  you can start to see a decent amount of details, with the major craters getting visible.

Higher focal lengths are, of course, better to capture finer details. If you need to go “longer”, you can use a 2x teleconverter for your current lens or invest in a cheap mirror lens like the Samyang 500 f/8 or 300 f/6.3 (although not easy when it comes to focusing, but they are chromatic aberration free).

Legacy telephoto lenses of about 200mm or 300mm, like the Canon FD 300 f/5,6, are another affordable option if you need something cheap for occasional shots of the Moon.

This Moon was taken with Olympus Zuiko OM 200 f4
This Moon was taken with a 40 years old Olympus Zuiko OM 200 f/4 and the dedicated Olympus Zuiko OM 2-XA teleconverter. 


A well-known rule of thumb in photography is that if you need to shoot handheld, your shutter speed should be at least the inverse of the focal length used. 

Say you want to photograph the Moon with a 200mm handheld; you should ideally use shutter speeds faster than 1/200s. Of course with modern cameras and lenses, you can get image stabilization so that you can get away with slower shutter speeds.

So yes, you can take photos of the Moon without a tripod, but for the best results and for doing image stacking you should use a tripod.

If you use a very long telephoto lens or a telescope, you’ll notice the Moon will drift out the frame quite fast. The best solution to avoid the problem is to track the Moon using a manual or motorized alt/az mount.

Do I Need A Telescope

A telescope is, of course, the instrument of choice for lunar closeups, and you can use it for planetary photography too.

But you don’t really need it, at least at the beginning, when you are still not sure astronomical observation and astrophotography agrees with you. 

If you want to get a telescope, mind that there is a difference between those that can be used for observing and those that can work in astrophotography. The argument is vast and I invite you to check out our guide about buying your first telescope.

If you are in a hurry, a small maksutov telescope such as the Sky-Watcher Skymax 90/1250 or the Celestron c70 are great instruments for the Moon: small, compact, lightweight, affordable and easy to use. 

The Sky-Watcher Skymax 901250 and the Celestron C70
The Sky-Watcher Skymax 90/1250 (left) and the Celestron C70 (right).

They can even be used on a photographic tripod, provided you don’t mind reframing the Moon every now and then.

If you are more of an observer and not too much into photography, a classic dobsonian telescope, 150 to 200mm in aperture will be the ideal choice, particularly if you don’t need it to be portable.

Phone (apple or android) (optional)?

Your phone is not really the killer option for Moon shots. The limiting factor here is the lens, as phones have too wide a lens for the job.

A MEME about photographing the Moon with a phone
A classic MEME about reality and expectation when photographing the Moon with a phone.

And please, refrain from wasting money buying those miracle clip-on telescopes for phones: they are useless.

But there is a place for camera phones in astrophotography, as we have detailed in this guide about using a mobile phone for astrophotography

If you have a telescope or good binoculars, you can get an adapter and mount your phone at the eyepiece, thus photographing what you would see if you looked inside the telescope.

Using iPhone in eyepiece projection with Celestron C5 telescope
Using my iPhone in eyepiece projection with my Celestron C5 telescope.

This technique is called eyepiece projection and can work with phones and compact cameras and can give very nice results.

The result from using phone in eyepiece projection
The result from using my phone in eyepiece projection, from a 4K video.


Many cameras have an internal intervalometer. If you want to shoot the Moon for image stacking and you plan to shoot in RAW, then an intervalometer is a must-have. 

If your camera does not have an intervalometer built-in, you may be able to get an external one. 

How To Photographing The Moon

Photographing the Moon can be as easy as pointing your phone at the sky and snap away or you can choose a more sensible approach, using equipment that is best suited for the job than your phone.

Every type of lunar photography has its own peculiarity and requirements, both in terms of gear and knowledge.

If you are after a landscape, you will probably go for a wide shot. If you are after forced perspective shots, you will tend to isolate the Moon and the foreground right in front of it.

Moon shots in landscape photography
Different types of Moon shots in landscape photography.

In both cases the Moon is not the sole subject of the photo. You should work as you would typically do for regular daylight landscape photography: use composition rules and don’t forget about the foreground’s role in balancing the image and holding the viewer’s interest.

If you are looking to isolate the Moon or getting close-ups of the lunar surface, you need something more than a wide-angle.

Close up of the lunar surface showing details
Close up of the lunar surface showing details such as the central peak inside the large Copernicus crater and the Rupes Recta, a straight feature on the Moon surface.

Use long focal lengths to capture as many details as possible, a tripod or a specific mount to track the Moon so that it will stay in the frame while you focus and get your photos.

Working with Skymax 901250 maksutov telescope
Working with my small Skymax 90/1250 maksutov telescope, a barlow lens to double its focal length, a planetary camera, and a computerized entry-level mount.

From now on, we concentrate on photographing the Moon alone,when it is large enough to fill most of the frame.

Camera Settings To Photograph The Moon: Go Beyond The Looney 11 Rule

In photography there are many rules: composition rules, exposure rules, etc. And there is one of such rules to help you for photographing the Moon: the Looney 11.

The rule states that to properly expose the full Moon, you should shoot at ISO 100, f/11 and with a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second.

Of course, this rule is based on the relations within the exposure triangle between ISO, aperture and shutter speed: if ISO 100, f/11 and 1/100 can properly expose the full Moon, ISO 200 f/11 1/200 and ISO 100 f/8 1/200 will work just as well.

But this rule is still only valid for the full Moon and you have to tweak it for the other phases. 

Looney 11 is not adequate for a dimmer crescent Moon
It is clear that the looney 11 is not adequate for the much dimmer crescent Moon.

You can see that, as with many things in astrophotography, there is not really a one-fits-all solution or rule, and you will find yourself needing to adjust things. And you will do this successfully with practice but also with understanding what really matters.

For the Moon, particularly at high magnification, what counts more is the seeing. Turbulent air makes the image of the Moon continuously wobble in the frame, and this will reduce sharpness and smear those nice small details.

The effects of bad seeing on the Moon
The effects of bad seeing on the Moon. You need to freeze this wobbling to get sharp images. (Image credit: Rich Addis).

The effect of the seeing is particularly strong if the Moon is at the horizon (for forced perspective), low in the sky or just above rooftops.

In order to freeze the seeing, you must work with shutter speed priority in mind: the most important thing is to try to stay around or below 1/150

And try using an aperture from f/5.6 to f/8 for the best and sharper results.

Of course this proves challenging when the Moon is not full. 

The Moon's brightness changes for the different lunar phases
The Moon’s brightness dramatically changes for the different lunar phases.

Based on experience, a rule of thumb for the Moon brightness is:

  • With 30% illumination, the Moon brightness can reach 25% of the that of Full Moon
  • At 60% illumination, the Moon brightness goes up to about 66% of that of the Full Moon
  • At 80% illumination, the Moon brightness is about 80% of that of the Full Moon

In any case, try not to go slower than 1/50th of a second, even for the dimmest crescent Moon.

When it comes to choosing your ISO, if you are photographing the Moon around the full Moon, try to use low ISO values, such as ISO 200.

But around the New Moon and 1st or last quarter, or if you are photographing an eclipse, ISO 200 is too low. In this case, to choose your ISO you should consider ISO invariance.

Many cameras are ISO invariant (also called ISO-less), at least in a certain ISO range. 

Ok, but what does this mean in practice? Why should I care?

ISO Invariance means that within the ISO range where the camera behaves ISO-less, there is no noise penalty in brightening in post underexposed images rather than increasing the ISO in camera.

Why is this important? Because by keeping your ISO to a lower level, you can maximize the extent of the dynamic range (contrast in the scene between shadows and highlights) the sensor can see.

You will face this problem when the Moon is around the first or last quarter: retaining the most dynamic range sensitivity is the key to photograph the bright part of the Moon, the one in Sunlight, and the dark side of the Moon, dimly lit by the fainter Earthshine.

And, of course, you can do bracketing for this.

Earthshine and stars can be photographed even with the Moon in its 1st quarter
Earthshine and stars can be photographed even with the Moon in its 1st quarter.

ISO invariance is a key concept in deep-sky astrophotography with a DSLR.

Focus On The Moon

Nailing the focus is what makes or destroys a lunar image

It does not matter what lens or telescope you are using: if the focus is off, even by a tiny bit, your image will suffer.

It will suffer because it will be soft and because you will be tempted to over sharpen it in post: this will give a wow image at first, but you’ll not going to like it at a second glance.

This is a short list of what you don’t want to do for  focusing on the Moon with your DSLR:

  • Use autofocus: a hit and miss process at best
  • Prefocus on a distant light rather than on the Moon itself: some lens can reset when the camera is turned off, your distant light may not be that distant after all, you may knock your focus ring by mistake
  • Turn your focus ring all the way to the hard stop: you will be focusing past infinity. And some modern lenses do not even have a hard stop to begin with
  • Rely on the distance scale engraved on your lens: it is often not very accurate

So, how do you focus on the Moon? 

The best solution, whether you are using a photographic telephoto lens or a telescope, is to frame the Moon around the lunar terminator and use your camera’s live view to magnify the view.

The Moon was almost full and the terminator was next to the edge
In this image, the Moon was almost full and the terminator was next to the edge.

The Lunar terminator is simply the line that divides the part of the lunar surface that is in the shadow to that that is in full sunlight.

Now, manual focus so as to make as sharp as possible the visible craters along the terminator: the sideway illumination provides plenty of details you can use to focus.

Focus aids like focus peaking can also help you in the task.

The Full Moon is more challenging, as there is very little contrast due to the frontal illumination. 

One feature that will still help you to focus is Montes Teneriffe, near the Plato crater: this group of mountains is surrounded by seemingly flat and smooth terrain, so even during the Full Moon, you can get some contrast to focus on.

The area to look for when focusing on the full Moon
Here is where the area you should be looking for when focusing on the full Moon.

Capture Your Images: What Image Format Should You Use?

We have now set our camera in manual, taking care the shutter speed is somewhere in between 1/100 and 1/200, and we have manually focused on the Moon.

It is now time to decide how to shoot the Moon: do we take still image(s) or shoot a video clip?

This depends on the kind of camera you are using: for a planetary camera you want to record raw videos. 

With a DSLR, you could capture still in RAW format or try your luck with video. 

Here is how to set your DSLR for shooting videos of the Moon

  1. make sure you select the best bit rate (compression)
  2. then use the highest resolution compatible with that bit rate
  3. finally, choose the highest frame rate compatible with the previous settings
  4. make sure you use manual video shutter speed

Refer to your camera manual for knowing how to use these settings.

If you shoot still frames, use RAW format. Avoid shooting in JPEG for any kind of astrophotography, as they are compressed, already tweaked and you cannot push the editing as you should.

If you are using a modern smartphone for eyepiece projection, you should probably use 4K video.

Single Shot or Image Stacking?

If you are into photography, you may have heard the phrase “spray and pray”. The idea is to fire a quick burst of photographs to later choose the best.

This is exactly what is done in astrophotography: we take a series of still or video frames, we choose the best and combine them to create a much better image than the single frames.

Should you take a single shot?

Heck no! Never.

With an intervalometer, taking a sequence of 50-60 images of the Moon is not a big deal, even if you are not interested in doing image stacking. 

Now you have a fairly large pool from where to pick the sharpest and most detailed image to further edit if you do not want to go through the extra work of stacking your images.

Should I go for images stacking?

Image stacking is the proper way to do astrophotography. 

The idea is to take a series of images or a video, align them to the best image of the batch, and combine the best ones (stack) to produce a final image with greater signal-to-noise ratio.

You’ll get a cleaner and more detailed image, but careful: don’t fall into the trap of stacking all the images. 

A famous saying in astrophotography is “garbage in, garbage out”, which means stack only the very best images.

And if you want to capture the subtle colors of the lunar surface, image stacking is the way to go.

How To Post Process Your Moon Images

Lunar editing is a rather vast argument, so let me just give you a roadmap on this here, as most of the steps have been (or will be) covered in dedicated articles.

First, go out and shoot the Moon as best as you can. Mind your focus and shutter speed; make sure you are not using JPG and you are working in manual. And choose the proper gear for the job.

Then, shoot for image stacking: if you do not want to stack your images, you will still have a nice pool from where to pick the most promising image.

If you want to stack, and I advise you to do it, you are not in for much work: most of the available software for image stacking is highly automated, even the free one. Here is a full article dedicated to helping you stacking (and sharpening) lunar images.

Once you get the stacked and possibly sharpened image, you can move to your favorite photo editing software for the final tweaks.


We are at the end of this long guide about photographing the Moon. As you have seen, the Moon is far from being that boring subject it seems to be. 

In reality, the Moon offers plenty of photographic opportunities, from landscape to creative effect and classic astrophotography.

And most of those opportunities can be explored on a budget, using legacy lenses, teleconverters, superzoom bridges, and compact cameras, as well as entry-level telescopes.

The sky is your limit …

About Andrea Minoia

Andrea Minoia works as a researcher in a Belgian university by day and is a keen amateur astrophotographer by night.

He is most interested in deep sky photography with low budget equipment and in helping beginners along their journey under the stars.