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Perseid Meteor shower: My lone Meteorite Capture

You may have heard of the meteor shower that goes by the name of Perseid. I know it is an annual event and that it is caused by the earth passing through the remnant trails of a comet named “Swift-Tuttle Comet”. That is all I know, and I even had to google to find the name of the comet. Anyways, here is a cut and paste of some more info on the phenomena:

“The Swift-Tuttle Comet was discovered by Lewis Swift and Horace Parnell Tuttle in July of 1862.   The comet passed by Earth in 1992 and will not return again until 2126, however the dust that follows this comet creates a reliable annual meteor shower, the Perseids.”

source: http://www.meteorblog.com/what-causes-the-perseids-meteor-shower/

I live in Southern California very close to Los Angeles and as you know there is much light pollution and general air pollution so it is not an ideal location to view the night sky. However there is a lot of mountain roads not too far up the PCH from where I live in Santa Monica and I figured why not drive up the coast around mid night and see what i can find.

Well unlucky me got my camera gear all ready to go and I open up my front door to walk outside and the entire city is covered in a layer of fog.! I didn’t let that stop me so I proceeded to my car and drove to the pch and headed north from Santa Monica. I know of a very dark area out on the beach at a spot called Point Dume and figured that would be the best place to go that isn’t too far of a drive. Hoping the farther I got away from Santa Monica, the less fog there would be was a completely wrong assumption.! It got worse the farther north I went and when I pulled over at point Dume and got out, I could not see a single star in the sky.

This was disappointing since I drove all this way and really hoped to see some meteorites. I luckily was very close to a road that I take to get up to one of my favorite mountain bike trails and knew it was really isolated up there. I had never been there at night but figured it would have to be pretty dark, so I decided to start driving up Kanan Dume rd. You can see exactly where that trail is and how to get there here.

The drive to the trail site wasn’t making me any more confident that I was going to get some clear open sky. There was so much fog on the mountain roads I thought it was hopeless. I kept on though and when I got to the trail head and parked, I was pleasantly surprised that I was high enough to be above the fog banks and had a great sky view. I could even see the milky way with the naked eye which I did not expect.

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The thick cloud/fog coverage I was trapped under at the beach is visible here

It was surprising to drive all the way up here to a place I figured no one would be and sure enough right where I was going to park already had sky viewers set up laying on the tops of their cars.! I guess I picked a good spot.

I took a total of about 40 or so pics trying to catch a meteorite and here are a few of the results.

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more of the awesome milky way

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a little of a street light got in my lens. looks cool though.!

And after all the pics I took, I caught one lone meteorite on the very bottom edge of the frame and on the last picture I took of the night too.! I didn’t even know It was in the frame till I got home and looked through the pics. That’s the hard part about photographing these guys, they are fast, and come from anywhere and everywhere.

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my one lucky capture

 

I took on average 20 second exposures with my 5d mark 2 with my 17-40L lens set at 17mm to try getting as wide of a field of view as possible. Even though I only caught one single meteorite with the camera, I got to see at lest 30 streak through the sky while I was up on that mountain. It was very beautiful to see and was worth the 50 mile drive to get a chance to view them.

Below is all the gear I used. The cable release is essential when shooting night/ long exposure photography. I just held the button down and counted for these exposures but you can set it up on a timer to keep your shutter open for as long as you like.

4 thoughts on “Perseid Meteor shower: My lone Meteorite Capture

  1. Julius

    I have used Lightroom to clean up ISO noise, but I am not an very good at it yet.
    A meteor leaves a continuous trail with a slight change in color as the small object burn up in the atmosphere. It does not leave a perfect pattern. If the airplane was low on the horizon it could be 100km away. Here you can see picture of meteors. It is rare to get the bright fireballs, I usually just get the weak ones like the Orionids example pictures.

    1. eebling Post author

      Ya I have tried reducing noise in lightroom too and it does work but usually smooths/blurs things out a lot. I tried it on some really high iso night photographs of stars and it practically blurred out all but the most prominent stars. I would like to get my hands on a 5d mark III but that will have to wait till prices drop 😉

      E.

  2. Julius

    Hi great post about the Perseid meteor shower. I think you have caught an airplane unfortunately. If you look closely you see alternating red and green lights. This is the strobes at the left and right wingtip of an aircraft.

    I see via EXIF that you used an aperture of F5.6 and ISO 5000. You should always use the largest aperture(smallest F-number) of your lens when trying to capture meteors. Next time try F4 which is the maximum aperture of 17-40mm F4. And you should bump up the ISO to at least 12 000 or even higher. Then you will capture many of the faint meteors that are visible to the eye and also those who are invisible.

    Best Wishes
    Julius

    1. eebling Post author

      Hmm, maybe it is a plane..?! I don’t recall seeing any in that area of the sky but it would explain why it is a dotted line and not a streak. I never tried shooting a meteor shower before so don’t know what one will look like through my gear. I have shot some night photography before with the H2 extended iso settings to get 25,600 iso but those high iso setting get so much noise, I didn’t think it would produce decent images. Do you have any tricks to clean up the images when you shoot at the really high iso setting.??

      E

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