My Perseids Pics

The photo at the top of this entry gives you an idea what can be seen. It’s well beyond what I was able to see with my naked eye.


The Perseids Meteor Shower was Saturday night. Cloudy. Perseids is an annual photo op. Crap! I didn’t want to miss it.

Sunday was clear. My urge to shoot was still there. Still, it’s like coming on the second day of a going out-of-business clearance. There were meteors waiting to be photographed, just a lot fewer!

Briefly, Perseids takes place when the Earth passes through the orbit of Comet Swift-Tuttle. The comet’s far away, but little bits of dust and debris are left behind. As these specks are sucked into the Earth’s atmosphere at 120,000 mph they quickly heat up and vaporize. What’s left is a bright visible streak in the sky.

This must have been a pain during the film days of photography! My job is much simpler.

Everything on the camera was set to manual, including focus. There’s no enough light to focus through the viewfinder, but I was amazed a magnified image on my camera’s LCD brought enough light from the brightest stars to find infinity on my lens.

I opened the aperture on my Sigma 30mm lens all the way to F/1.4. As lenses go that’s very ‘fast,’ meaning it brings in lots of light.

A few years ago I bought an intervalometer on eBay. It controls my camera’s shutter electronically. I set it to take a thirty second exposure, wait a second, then do it again forever!

With the camera on a tripod pointing over my roof and in between some trees I clicked ‘start’. The intervalometer sprung into action.

The photo at the top of this entry gives you an idea what can be seen. It’s well beyond what I was able to see with my naked eye.

A moment later I was back in the house! No need for me to be there. The camera was on its own!

Over the next few hours I shot over 450 photos. I paused to change the camera battery, but that was the only interruption.

There are at least two shots that seem to show meteors. They weren’t particularly bright nor do I know if they were part of the meteor shower or just random junk the Earth attracts round-the-clock.

There were plenty more images that showed airplanes (meteors have no strobe lights pulsing) and one that revealed a satellite far to the north and still lit by the Sun.

These shots aren’t exactly as they emerged from the camera. There is light pollution here in Connecticut. I darkened the sky a little to add contrast. They are also cropped.

There’s another major meteor shower in November, Leonids. My camera and I will be back!

5 thoughts on “My Perseids Pics”

  1. Based on the look of the tracks, and that they sorta seem to radiate from about the same point, they could certainly be meteorite trails.

    A typical set of tracks for the Perseid shower appears to come from a point in the sky called the ‘radiant’ and that point is more or less stationary as the star field rotates. These tracks seem to show that. Look at the uncropped shots to see if it is there.

    Still a good couple shots–when I tried it with film all I got was star track blobs and a stiff neck. Long time exposures on film get loused up by the reciprocity effects, and push developing Kodak Tri-X pushed to ASA 3200 or beyond is a mess as well. The gelatin tends to get too soft at high temps. Never had any good shots.

    Spent a warm summer night in the far reaches of San Diego county at a remote Boy Scout camp watching hundreds of tracks. We did not have such luck this year–it’s been overcast at night due to our Monsoonal flow and t-storms in the desert…

    1. Any two streaks will look like they meet. If these are Perseids meteors I want to establish it conclusively. This was a learning experience for me. My gear is capable and I mainly understand how to do it. Next few times will be to get better. I have a slower but much wider lens, but not for the front yard. If I went to the beach or back to the fire tower in Woodbury it would be perfect.

      Meteor showers are best shot wide.

  2. You said you darkened the sky for more contrast, but did you have to adjust the color at all? Whenever I take long exposures of the sky they are always tinted red…

    1. You are correct. I made those mono.

      White balance in the pitch dark is impossible with current technology. The camera already shows more detail than the naked eye. Using Photoshop and other tools to extract additional detail and remove color isn’t cheating.

      1. Thanks. I don’t know why I never thought of desaturating the image to get rid of that annoying tint.
        Nice photos, btw.

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