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Leonid Meteor Shower

:: Tuesday, November 19th, 2002 @ 4:45:45 am

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My sis’ and I went up Mt. Tam and camped out in an open space just past the park barricade to see the Leonid Meteor Shower tonight — and it was amazing (supposedly the most active in the next 100 years or so). We were there for the 2:30AM PST peak; I saw four shooting stars at the same time: a new record for me! There were a variety of shooting star strains: slow, burning orange ones, fast white streaks, blazing green persisting trails, and more. One star left a trail that was etched into the sky for more than 15 seconds. We also saw an incredibly bright streak that burst into a green flash at the end. And all the while, the almost-full moon illuminated the entire sky. I can only imagine what it would have been like with a new moon (which the Perseids happened to coincide with, not long ago. Now that was a treat. :).

It was funny: because Wendy and I were situated just past the barricade, a number of people struck up conversations with us on their way in and out. We felt like gatekeepers. Shortly after we arrived, I gave some pretty piss-poor advice to a hapless couple because I didn’t know which direction north was, and because we hadn’t had enough time to be able to tell where the meteors were coming from (and I have no idea what Leo looks like). After a few minutes, it became obvious that most of the meteors were originating from a single point in the sky. Too bad no one else asked me for advice after we figured that out.

I had a few problems getting a decent photo:

  1. Almost-full moon. Couldn’t open up the aperture too much, or else sky would bleach. This means that only the very brightest streaks were recorded. I saw dozens of bright trails while the camera was exposing, but only see ONE in the results.

  2. I’m a moron. Focused at infinity initially, but changed focus on accident. Results trails are blurry.

  3. I’m a moron. Didn’t have full battery, and had to abort early.

Ah well. There’s always next year. :) I stacked 33 images (taken before the batteries died) to get the shot with trails, below. You can see how bright the sky is.

Also, Adam posted pics of what I did all day. :)

Photos:


Leonid Meteor Showers: combined image from 33 90-second exposures (you can only see one meteor)

The faint meteor in this photo was a really bright one with a big flash at the end. You can’t tell, in this photo. :(
| | link | trackback | Nov 19, 2002 04:45:45
  • echeng

    hey — will someone please tell me how to get a photo of a shooting star? :) I exposed tonight between f3.2 and f4.5. Stars are bright. Shooting stars are virtually non-existent. :(

  • echeng

    red bull + twisty roads + late nights = jittery exhaustion + insomnia

  • jim

    has the red bull worn off yet? :)

  • http://www.paulwhkan.com/pqplus paul

    cool shots eric. despite the hurdles that the night presented.

    maybe it is the sense of proportion that makes it difficult to have a sense of the coolness of the meteor. the actual meteor takes up such a small space (probably a fraction of an arc-second) in the sky that in an image of a normal view of the sky, it almost gets lost. sort of like a shot of the moon with a 50mm lens.

    maybe you can only get the sense of the meteor hurtling through space in isolation with a really long lense?

  • echeng

    hmmm. good point, paul.

    however, in the past, i’ve seen some that have spanned a good % of the sky. those have been really fantastic, and would have necessitated wide-angle lenses. :) maybe next time i’ll use a 50mm lens and pray that a really bright one happens to occur in the covered area. :)

  • http://tnts.screaming.net/stwha.htm Tun

    Good attempts. Thanks for trying to get those pics anyway, Eric. I’ve never seen shooting stars, but they look an awesome sight. They don’t seem to happen where I’m living, boo :-(

  • http://www.susan-kim.com susan

    great photos eric.

    thanks for the email. i don’t know how pouty i can get in my webcams but i say thats a great pouty pic of yours. =P

    take care,

  • Clare

    i’m sorry i missed it… it was really cloudy over here in NJ, so i didn’t bother..

  • syndromes

    Hey Eric. I was up at J-Tree last year for the Leonoids shooting with a D30 and primarily a canon 50mm 1.8.

    All my pics pretty much looked like ass :/ If you haven’t already, check out:

    http://www.luminous-landscape......ight.shtml

    Good stuff I should probably employ on my next night-shooting excursion ;)

  • echeng

    ugh. long exposures with a D30? I feel for you.

    i tried that, and came back with a bunch of static (AND, I had to wait 2 minutes between exposures while the stupid noise reduction filter ran).

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