2019 Geminids

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The Geminids are a reliable meteor shower that I’ve been successful photographing before; and last night/this morning at the predicted peak, the sky was clear.  Only one thing stood in the way of seeing and capturing meteors: a just-past-full Moon sitting in Gemini, the radiant point of the shower.

I went out to try to photograph the meteors anyway, and I’m glad I did.  I saw 15 bright meteors in about three hours, and got six good pictures.

Here is a zoom into the top picture:

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Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 2.0 second exposure, ISO 4000
  •             Sigma 10-20 mm f/4-5.6 lens, set at 10 mm, manual focus
  •             Intervalometer with bulb at 2 sec, intervals at 3 sec
  •             Tripod

I was seeing most of the meteors between Orion and Taurus, so I decided to switch to a faster, less wide-angle lens.  For the first time, when I saw a meteor, I also caught it with the camera.  I’ll be using this setting in the future.

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Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/2.8, 2.0 second exposure, ISO 2000
  •             Sigma 24-70 mm f/2.8EX lens, set at 24 mm, manual focus
  •             Intervalometer with bulb at 2 sec, intervals at 3 sec
  •             Tripod

One web site suggested going out tonight (December 14) between sunset and moonrise to try to see meteors – I think I’ll try it!

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:


The start of one of the really bright meteors:


My last meteor picture:


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.