2014 Geminids

The 2014 Geminids were the best meteor shower I’ve seen in years.

I live in a suburban area with light pollution, so I knew not to expect the maximum number of meteors per hour predicted by the press.

When I went out Friday night (the night before the shower peak) to practice meteor photography, I saw 5 meteors in 37.5 minutes. That’s better than I’ve seen during the peak of some other showers.

When I went out Saturday night (the shower peak), I saw 35 meteors over 3 hours. That’s pretty good given that the clouds were coming and going and I spent some time inside processing pictures whenever the clouds got discouraging.

Two of the meteors I saw were pretty spectacular. Both had a greenish color to them, and one widened and brightened as it crossed the sky. Unfortunately, the camera was turned the wrong way, so I only captured the start of the first one.

Here are the pictures I captured (camera geek information below for those interested):

The first meteor with Gemini and Orion:

SmallGeminid20141214

The start of one of the really bright meteors:

PartialGeminid20141214

My last meteor picture:

FinalGeminid20141214

To get these pictures, I used the following equipment and settings:

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at 4.0 F-stop, 15-second exposure, ISO 1000
  • Sigma 10-20 mm lens, set at 10 mm, manual focus at infinity
  • Intervalometer set to trigger a new picture every 18 seconds
  • Tripod

Because meteors are so fleeting, I needed to capture as much light as possible. So I started with the smallest f-stop to set the lens wide open. Then I wanted to have as long of an exposure as possible so that I would catch an entire meteor trail and not spend too much time on the overhead of triggering the next shot. I started with 30 second shots, but the ISO I had to use to not wash out the pictures was pretty low, and although I should have seen meteors in some of the shots, I didn’t. So I switched to 15 seconds with a higher ISO. I managed to capture some of the meteors that I saw, but not others. I think when I try it again I may go to 10 seconds and an even higher ISO.

Unfortunately, it looks like it’s going to be cloudy tonight, so I may have to wait until the next shower to try it out.