Have you ever wanted to photograph the Moon, planets, stars and other objects you see through your telescope on your smartphone?
Many of us are bound to have tried it at some point. There you are, refractor pointed at the Moon, gazing in wonder as the terminator emphasises the glorious structures of lunar craters and mountains.
You’d love to be able to capture what you’re seeing, but all you have is the smartphone in your pocket.
“Surely,” you think, “it’d be easy enough to hold my phone’s camera lens up to the eyepiece and capture an image”.
This technique is known as ‘eyepiece projection’ or ‘afocal imaging’, and requires a steady hand indeed.
As anyone who’s tried it will testify, it’s incredibly difficult to get right.
This is where a smartphone telescope adaptor comes in.
For more advice, read our guides to the best smartphone astrophotography gadgets and how to photograph the night sky with your smartphone.
Read our pick of the best smartphone zoom lenses and best smartphone tripods.
A smartphone telescope adaptor is a device that holds your phone in position on the eyepiece, enabling the camera lens to get a good view of whatever your telescope happens to be pointed at.
Once you’ve got it set up, all you need to do is make sure you get a good capture of your chosen target!
What to look for in a smartphone telescope adapter
In order for afocal imaging with a smartphone telescope adapter to work, the phone’s camera lens must be firmly supported in the same position your eye is when you’re visually observing.
This can mean it’s worth spending a bit of money on a decent adaptor, as you’ll need something sturdy that holds your phone well in place.
Also, check that the adapter you’re buying actually supports your make and model of smartphone.
But you should also think about how often you’re likely to be getting a new smartphone in future.
If you change your phone often, you may want an adapter that can suit different shapes and sizes.
Below we’ve picked out a selection of some of the best smartphone telescope adapters available to buy online.
Some telescope kits even come with their own smartphone adapter, so if you’re entirely new to astronomy and think you might want to capture what you see, these are a good option.
We’ve listed some telescopes like this below too.
7 of the best smartphone telescope adapters
Celestron NexYZ 3-Axis Universal Smartphone Adapter
The first thing we noticed when testing the NexYZ was the quality of build.
We also loved how quickly you can insert and remove the smartphone, and this is a great feature if you’re with a group of people who would all like to have a go at capturing the chosen target on their own phone.
The best feature of the NexYZ is the ability to line the smartphone up with the telescope eyepiece in three axes, X, Y and Z, as this gives you maximum control when it comes to making sure the smartphone’s camera is aligned with the optical axis of the telescope.
We used the NexYZ with a Stargate 500 GoTo Dobsonian, an Equinox 80 ED refractor and our 100mm spotting scope.
We were able to capture a range of targets including the Moon and deep-sky objects using the NightCap app, and we were very impressed.
Read our full Celestron NexYZ review
Tele Vue FoneMate Smart Phone Eyepiece Adapter
The TeleVue FoneMate offers a pretty nifty and convenient way of capturing images using a telescope or a digiscope. This device provides a bracket that grips the phone and then lines up the phone’s camera lens to the telescope eyepiece.
Visionary Universal Smartphone Camera Adapter
If you’re wanting to capture photographs of the night sky and you have access to a range of instruments like a telescope, binoculars, a digiscope or any other optical device, it might pay off in the long run to go for something universal that can be adapted to various different shapes and sizes.
More like this
The Visionary Universal Smartphone Camera Adapter is a good option because it can fit over any eyepiece with a 26-51mm diameter. The adapter also includes a tripod thread in the phone cradle, if you happen to have a good smartphone tripod that you use for capturing long exposures or star trails etc.
Altair Astro Self-Centering Smartphone Adaptor
The Altair Astro self-centering smartphone adaptor is fairly easy to set up and use and it works well.
It positions the phone at the correct distance from your eyepiece and the right lateral position, enabling you to adjust the exposure and focus to get your image looking good.
It also holds the phone pretty steady to remove the risk of shakes that will affect your final image.
You adjust four rubber-coated clamping arms to hold the phone’s camera lens over the circular hole in the adaptor, then use the locking arms to secure it in place.
A three-finger gripping system tightens everything onto your 1.25-inch eyepiece body.
Read our full Altair Astro Self-Centering Smartphone Telescope Adaptor review.
Bresser Universal Smartphone Holder Deluxe
Bresser is a renowned manufacturer of telescopes and accessories, and they also produce a phone adapter for use with both telescopes and microscopes.
It can be used on eyepieces with diameters from 22-38mm (which, of course, includes the ubiquitous 1.25-inch eyepieces).
The device operates via a platform with suction cups to hold your phone in place, which certainly makes the positioning of the camera lens over the eyepiece a bit more of a manual job than other adapters, but it does come with a flexible locking ring to help you hold the smartphone in place.
Another offering from Celestron, the NeXGO fits eyepieces between 25.4mm – 44.45mm in diameter and is fitted with spring-loaded clamps to enable quick switching of devices.
Turn the directional knobs to align your phone so that its camera lens is centred on the eyepiece, and you’re ready to go.
The adapter might look quick clunky, but it folds up for transportation. It also comes with an adjustable platform enabling it to fit a range of smartphones.
Orion Steadypix EZ
Another renowned brand in the world of telescopes and telescope accessories, Orion has also entered the smartphone telescope adapter market with the Orion SteadyPix EZ.
The adapter fits smartphones from 4.7 x 2.4 inches up to 8.3 x 4.7 inches, and its clamp is designed to fit eyepiece housings measuring between 1.2 – 2.2 inches.
Like many other models, this one works via a clamp system that can be adjusted to hold your phone in place, with the lens centred over the eyepiece.
Telescopes with smartphone adapters included
If you’re starting smartphone astrophotography through a telescope from scratch, why not get yourself a scope with a smartphone adapter already included?
Celestron Inspire 80AZ Refractor
Great for young astronomers
The Celestron Inspire 100AZ is a great option for beginners, and in particular young astronomers who are just setting out on their journey into practical astronomy.
It’s offered at a reasonable price and comes with a good, sturdy tripod, 20mm and 10mm Kellner eyepieces and a 90° erect image diagonal (meaning the telescope is suitable for terrestrial observations).
The Inspire 100AZ also comes with a red light torch, accessory tray/leg spreader and a dual-purpose dust cap.
And completing the package is the smartphone holder, which is built into the dust cap.
We were able to capture a video of the Moon on our smartphone through the 20mm eyepiece.
Stacking the results of our lunar session produced a great astro image, considering the basic nature of our setup and despite poor seeing conditions.
Read our full Celestron Inspire 100AZ review
Acuter Voyager Mak 80
The Mak 80 is a well-priced, compact telescope measuring just 270mm long. It offers a focal length of 800mm and a focal ratio of f/10.
This makes it what’s known as a ‘slow’ telescope and as such is well-suited for observing the planets, the Moon and double stars.
The Mak 80 comes in a gift box with a soft carry case, a finderscope and two eyepieces.
It also comes with its own star diagonal and smartphone holder.
Read our full Acuter Mak 80 telescope review.