Pictures of the moon, stars and northern lights with a D3100

How do I take pictures of the moon, stars and northern lights with a Nikon D3100?


  • edited January 2015
    Thanks everyone for the amazing article and replies, I can't wait to try it in Iceland next March.
    I'm still a beginner but I'm looking forward to learning more and more about photography through my D3100.
    Thank you so much again.
  • edited May 2015
    Is it possible to capture with an 18-55mm lens using these settings?
  • edited May 2015
    Hi Moose, first off I would like to thank you for doing such a nice job with the cheat cards that I purchased. I'm still having issues with getting acceptable photos of the stars and moon. I have a Nikon D3100 with the 18-55mm kit lens. I put the settings in from the cheat cards, but they are still just black with one or two tiny dots.
  • edited May 2015
    Loubert, most of your settings should persist when you shut the camera off.

    Shutter actuation mode will reset from self timer at every shot and from IR remote when shut down, but the rest should remain as you left them.

    Naomibushwoman, most variable aperture zooms will go to their maximum only at the shortest focal length. So, for example, the f/3.5 to f/5.6 kit zoom will only go to f/3.5 at 18mm, and its largest aperture is f/5.6 at 55mm. The 55-200mm zoom will only go to f/4 at 55mm.

    I suggest you try again, if you can, and make sure you have followed all the suggestions including high ISO.

    As an experiment, try aiming at that street lamp again, with the lens at its shortest focal length, ISO at 3200, and switch to "A" mode. Now use the wheel to set the aperture at its lowest F stop, whatever that may be. Take a picture, and see if it comes out. Now, if you view the EXIF information for the shot in the playback, look at the shutter speed the camera has chosen. If the photo is brighter than you want, switch to manual and choose a shorter shutter speed. If it's darker than you want, switch to manual and choose a longer shutter speed.
  • Hey @pink - Shoot me some example shots (support "at" and I'll take a look at the image data to make sure you have the right settings in place. All the best!
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