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Perseid Meteor Shower
What is a meteor shower?
A meteor shower is a spike in the number of meteors or "shooting stars" that streak through the night sky.
Most meteor showers are spawned by comets. As a comet orbits the Sun it sheds an icy, dusty debris stream along its orbit. If Earth travels through this stream, we will see a meteor shower.
Although the meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, if you trace their paths, the meteors in each shower appear to "rain" into the sky from the same region.
Meteor showers are named for the constellation that coincides with this region in the sky, a spot known as the radiant. For instance, the radiant for the Leonid meteor shower is in the constellation Leo. The Perseid meteor shower is so named because meteors appear to fall from a point in the constellation Perseus.
There is quite a story to this image.
The night between 12 and 13 of August 2012 were quiet remarkable... in the end. That was a great opportunity for me, because since I turned to the AP, it was the first shower to image and and I was doing so from a dark site. That night was full of meteors and the rate counted as 100-120 meteors in hour. There was two major fireballs that night, both of them created such a flash, that it cast a shadow of the hills, bushes and our self. Unbelievable sight.
The first one, was just at the beginning of the night, around 21:00 and high as maybe 20-30°. He was big enough to fall apart in the sky as long as full 2 seconds and while burning, it was falling apart on smaller parts which also got burned leaving us quite speechless! Of course my camera was pointing at different direction, so not much of a luck here. It's obvious that you should not hunt meteors around the sky, but just point the camera in one direction and let it shoot continuously and hope for the best.
That is exactly what I did. More to it, I pointed my camera and set it up as if I would image my Milky Way project, meaning that if I wouldn't catch any meteors, at least I would have some data to process later. So, I set 10 minutes exposures and let it go, while me and my friend pulled out our chairs, binoculars and small Refractor, to chase meteors and maybe catch some afterburn trails up close.
Well, you might have guessed, all the meteors were nicely avoiding my camera, unbelievable. So after maybe two hours I decided to switch position and stay there for the rest of the night. I planned to stop imaging around 03:00 o'clock and shoot darks up until the morning. I pointed my camera and framed nicely the Cassiopeia region, so the wast chunk of the sky would be in it and I also put the Andromeda in there for better composition. Without meteor that is very beautiful picture by it self.
So, as soon as I switched direction, the meteors, as if they planned to make me suffer, abandoned that region of the sky and were avoiding my field of view. Murphy's law? Maybe... Anyway, as I was enjoying the shower with my own eyes it become more obvious to me that I will return home empty handed. I came to my laptop and noticed that the camera was on the last 3 frames and then I had to stop and make some darks while I'm going to sleep.
I walk to my friend and told him that I'm calling it a night. As I finished my last sentence, it came from nowhere,amazing bright flash exactly above our heads. It was long and huge, true fireball that created such a flash that it lit up the whole area and cast shadows, that was amazing!!! Then it vanished, but it left something more exciting... HUGE afterburn trail! Within a second we were looking through our Refractor and binoculars, spectacular afterburn trail had greenish hue and actually created a loop path after meteor while burning through the atmosphere.
For good 3 minutes we could observe the trail fading away, that was unbelievable and marked a spot in my brain. Five minutes later, when all the excitement fade away as the meteor's trail, I remembered, my camera!!! It was actually shooting in that direction! Running all excited, I opened the laptop and saw that the camera beautifully caught that meteor! Never thought I would be so happy to see a streak of light on laptop's monitor...LOL
But wait a minute, the frame that catch the meteor ended some seconds after that and then the next exposure should have to continue. And I wondered, that afterburn trail were so bright, we could see it with our own eyes, the camera had to catch it too... I patiently waited for this 10 minute exposure to end and... unbelievable...I also got the afterburn! In matter of seconds, from what seems to be a wasted night, it became a success image, with wide field Milky Way, with Andromeda, with Meteor and he's Afterburn trail, which is such a rare event by it self, yet to image it.
Optics : Tamron 17-50mm XR Di-II LD SP @ 17mm @ F4
Camera : Canon T3i (600D) Baader Mod
Mount : NEQ-6 Pro (Self Hypertuned)
Guiding: Not Guided
Acquisition : BackyardEOS 2.0.4
Exposure : 10 x 600 sec @ ISO800 - 1 Hour 40 Minutes Total
Stacking : DSS
Processing : Photoshop