PAGE UNDER CONSTRUCTION 16 AUGUST 2023, ILLUSTRATIONS LATER TODAY
With my experience and knowledge of Astro and Aurora Photography I have engaged myself in shooting meteors of the Perseid shower. There are more meteor showers beside the Perseids. The Orionides and the Geminides. The Perseids around 13 august up to 85 meteors per hour. The Orionides around 222 october up to 22 meteors per hour. The Geminides around 14 december up to 122 meteors per hour.
But how to photograph them? Their radiants seem to originate from the constellations Perseus, Orion and Gemini. There are plenty of websites with information on that and many apps for smartphones to find your way around the night sky. So I will leave that to specific sites about this subject.
This is a Meteor: it starts faint and then glows while burning up.
They will appear on your photos as well. You can easily distinguish them from meteors as they have a clear start and ending point and their trail is sharp and straight and thin with no fluctuations in thickness and trail. Also when you look at consecutive shots you will see that they cross the entire sky until they get outside of your frame.
This is a satellite: it has a constant brightness and an abrupt starting and ending.
So... WHAT do you really NEED to photograph the meteors?
- A camera which allows for full manual operation, both exposure and focussing need to be done manual.
- A wide angle lens.
- A tripod.
- a double set of fully charged batteries
- shoot in RAW-mode if the camera can
- a dark sky area or
- a night fliter to blockout orange streetlighting
- screen to prevent streetlighting to shine directly into your lens
- a timer to let the camera do its thing allowing you to enjoy the event. Mind the batteries being fully charged.
- a sky tracking device. Look for this on my Astrophotography workshop page (opens in new tab).
Those optional points are optional for a reason and that is because the meteors don't reflect light they cause light by definition. If they are so dim that you need a dark sky area to see them they most probably are so small that they are hardly worth all the trouble. I have shot them from a Bortle 7 sky in the outskirts of a city. The camera sees them perfectly but on the image you really have to have a close up look as you can see below. So don't worry too much about the sky darkness or Bortle classification. Your absolute main concern is the same for all celestial objects in the sky... clouds and a turbulent atmosphere like high temperature or many temperature differences in layers.
And once that is sorted... HOW do you get them?
Place the camera on your tripod and select the following settings to start with:
- switch of in body stabilisation
- switch off long exposure noise reduction and high ISO noise reduction as they take precious time. Deal with the noise later.
- focal length wide as possible but not a fish eye. Equivalent of 20mm full frame is about the max.
- ISO 3200
- shutter 20 seconds
- aperture wide open
If you have a timer built into your camera follow the instruction of your camera. If you have a separate timer set it to the exposure length plus the time the camera needs to process the photo plus 1 second for variations in the processing time. If you have a fast camera you can do with the processing time and spare second, just be sure that the timer fires no earlier than the exposure has ended.
Check your first exposures directly. If you shoot jpg or tiff files be sure to get a dark sky as there is little room for processing. If you shoot RAW you can prolong your exposure time until the sky looks blue. In post processing you can go back to the black sky. The advantage is that you get longer exposures with lesser pauses between the shots thus reducing the risk of missing meteors.
Once the shooting is done and processing is next start with simple editing: discard all photos without meteors. If you are a beginner park them and don't delete. When your eye gets trained you may find more meteors on earlier discarded shots!
Use a good denoising process like the AI version of Lightroom or Topaz. Proper denoising also sharpens your image!
Welllllll.... that is about it. Go to my Meteor album (opens in new tab). Good luck!