Great starlight photos do require some small amount of luck. There is more that can go wrong than you can possibly imagine. Don't get discouraged. This essay teaches how to create your own luck at starlight photography. Luck lives in a small house at the intersection of preparedness and practice. This itermediate experience essay series best understood when familiar with F-stop, shutter speed, ISO, and white balance.
I once met a person out on the trails. He noticed my camera expensive looking camera. Assumed I know about cameras and asked what camera I'd buy to take night sky pictures. I replied the question is not the camera but where you take pictures.
Is there a camera for night photography? Is one better than another? Well yes I imagine some cameras are better than others. Some may have specific purposes such as night photography. The Nikon D810A comes to mind. I've read its made for astrophotography. Astrophotography is different from night starscapes that I shoot. But it does not matter how good a camera is when the location or other conditions are all wrong. I'm not a technology guy, I'm an photographic arts guy. Technology reviews puts me to sleep.
I won't recommend spending $2,000 to $4,000 on a camera you don't need. Or if you are anything like me can't afford. I'll teach about using entry level equimpment and how to choose the right location. Just like real estate values only three things matter: location, location, and location. Go find a dark sky. Understand ideal conditions for starlight photography: control stray light, stablize the camera, and cooperative mother nature.
In other words even with the right technology you must find dark sky, no stray light, cloudless clear sky, moonless night - right, yeah right, sure no problem. Its not hopeless, track the weather and lunar cycles, nature can cooperate. So be prepared with the rest.
Don't expect to practice taking starlight photos seven nights a week until you get it right. Might take months before conditions are right for another try at it. I recall one year I only had two good opportunities to shoot starlight. It took about three years of practice to start getting really nice photos. So don't get discouraged if the first time you set out and get very few pictures.
A good location is as far away from city lights as possible. More than 25 miles is ideal, at that distance the curve of the earth blocks much of the light pollution. It needs to be full nighttime. The sun must be far way over the horizon. Immediately after sunset or just before sunrise does not work. I find a good time to take pictures is at least an hour after sunset or before sunrise.
My very first time out was in a remote location in upper Michigan. My plan started before 4am, a good 3 hours before sunrise. Planning allowed an hour drive down snow covered roads. Slippery winding roads in rural remote Michigan. Visit upper Michigan in early February and expect snow and sub zero temperatures. That early morning it was literally 9 below zero °F (-22°C).
My dog and I finally arrived at snow covered public boat launch somewhere north of Bessimer, MI. After a long drive down dark scary snowcovered roads I parked, parked and kept the car running. A dead car in the middle of nowhere might result in a dead you. It was bitter freezing cold. Dog stayed in the car, me in high tech snowsuit taking pictures of the night sky. Hours later photos were done. Shot many photos, many different exposures and only one came out close to what I wanted.
Cold, darkness and snow, It was a fun northwoods winter experience. I learned about what settings worked, what did not, and what could be done better. I also learned I really needed a remote cable, or better still and camera timer called an intervalometer. Whats a remote cable? Whats an Intervalometer? Why is the sky orange? Why are the stars not perfectly dots, kinda oblong? Most important - what settings work best? These and many more questions an answers in future essays.