Get ready for the 2013 Perseid Meteor Shower

Started Jul 23, 2013 | Discussions thread
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RustierOne
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Get ready for the 2013 Perseid Meteor Shower
Jul 23, 2013

It's time to begin preparing for this year's Persieid Meteor Shower. According to the August 2013 Sky and Telescope magazine article (pg. 50), this year will be a favorable one for seeing this shower. The fat crescent Moon sets mid evening, leaving the prime after midnight hours free from that source of light pollution. This year the shower's peak is spread over 2 mornings: August 12th and 13th for North America and Europe. Remember that these are the nights of August 11th and 12th. Here's a couple of links discussing this shower and meteor observing in general:

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/highlights/Meteor-Showers-in-2013-185454662.html

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/home/Catch-a-Shooting-Star-216158451.html

For photographing meteors here are a few tips that may prove useful:

  • Find a dark site
  • Shoot wide-angle
  • Use fast f-stop
  • Expose at high ISO (Better to have a meteor with lots of noise than no meteor.)
  • Expose only long enough to avoid trailing or burning out the stars
  • Take multiple exposures, keeping the shutter open as much as possible to catch some meteors

If any others have some suggestions or corrections to this list, please respond.

I have found that 2-1/2 minute exposures on a tracking mount at ISO 3200 was OK. Here's a crop from such an exposure showing an Eta Aquarid meteor:

Eta Aquarid Meteor between Ursa Major and Coma Star Cluster; Samyang 8mm, f/2.8, ISO 3200, ~150 sec.

But I want to avoid having to reset the tracking mount after each exposure (to keep the fisheye lens pointed straight up). Otherwise the tracker will swing to the west, picking up an increasing amount of the western horizon.

So for the Perseids my plan so far is to use a Sony NEX-5N with a Samyang 8mm f/2.8 fisheye lens on a fixed tripod, ISO 6400 with an intervalometer to automate the exposures. With 30-second exposures, every 32 seconds, the sensor will be exposed to the sky for about 94% of the time. This should capture most of the bright meteors with minimal star trailing. I'll look at the histogram for the 30-second exposures and increase the exposure if possible to maybe 45 seconds or so if I'm not blowing out the stars or having objectionable star trails. If noise is too objectionable, I may drop back to ISO 3200.

Any suggestions or comments would be appreciated.

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Best Regards,
Russ

 RustierOne's gear list:RustierOne's gear list
Sony Alpha NEX-5N Sony Alpha NEX-7 Sony E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sigma 19mm F2.8 EX DN Samyang 8mm F2.8 UMC Fisheye +3 more
Sony Alpha NEX-5N
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