The sun is setting and night is beginning to fall.  Many photographers are packing up their gear and heading home for the day, but Andy Austin, founder of Peak Photography of Montana, is just getting ready for the night ahead. 

On a moonless night the sky comes alive with a celestial show of planets, stars and constellations. Using the right photography equipment, images taken at night can be as clear and detailed as any daytime shots, often revealing much more depth and mystery. 

While the results are often awe-inspiring, Austin says night photography isn’t nearly as complicated as many think.

To capture the stars for yourself, here’s what you will need: a camera with a manual mode, a tripod, a remote shutter (to minimize camera shake) a location with minimal light pollution, and patience.

As for choosing a lens, Austin says it all depends on the look you are trying to accomplish.

“Personally, I prefer to shoot with a wide angle lens, but it is possible to take great photos with a telephoto as well.”  

The best time to capture stars and the Milky Way is on a moonless night, but never underestimate what can also be taken while the moon is out. When photographing with the moon you will get a much better foreground, but fewer stars.

To capture the best Milky Way photos aim your camera towards Scorpio (if you’re not up on your astronomy, try an app like Google Sky Map as a guide).

The most photogenic parts of the Milky Way also rise and set, just like the moon. In the winter it doesn’t rise until early in the morning, making it much more difficult to photograph. In the summer it is usually visible in the Northern Hemisphere once the stars come out.  

It never hurts to consult meteor shower calendars to find when you can see premium showers, and which direction to position your camera towards.

The next shower is July 29-30, 2013 and is the Delta Aquarids.

Here are some amazing images taken by Austin and how he did them.