The first photo of the Orion Nebula compared to one taken by an iPhone

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Back in 1880, astronomer Henry Draper required an entire 50 minutes to capture the first telescopic image of the Orion Nebula. Now, over 130 years later, Andrew Symes has accomplished the exact same thing using his iPhone — and he only needed a single second.

Canadian astrophotographer Andrew Symes does most of his photography through a telescope with his iPhone.

"[T]he quality of today's smartphone cameras makes it possible to take very respectable images of the Moon and planets through a telescope with your phone – but it takes some work," he writes at his blog.


Image Credit: Andrew Symes.

You can check out his set-up and technique here, but in summary he uses an 8-inch telescope, the NightCap app for iPhone, a smartphone adapter, eyepiece filters, stacking and editing software, and whole lot of practice.


Of course, if you're NASA and you have the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) at your disposal, you can take pictures of the Orion Nebula that look a little like this:


Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA.

Check out Symes's Flickr set for more pics, including some remarkable shots of the moon and Jupiter; you can follow him on Twitter.