Photo by AlexandraSD
On several evenings throughout the year, weather permitting, you can expect to see spectacular meteor showers and tonight, those who stay up late enough will have the chance to see one of the best meteor viewing opportunities of the entire year as the Perseid meteor shower is back.
You may have already captured a glimpse of shooting stars last night as the Perseid meteor shower was actually visible last night as well. It's actually an annual event with the Perseid meteor shower showing up every year in August (make a note). According to NASA, this happens because Earth travels through trails of debris left behind by an ancient comet and this year, we are experiencing a closer encounter which means the natural spectacular should be even better.
The further you get out of our towns and cities the more likely you are to see a spectacular show but on some occasions, even city dwellers could see several meteors an hour streaking across the sky.
The best time to shoot them depends on which shower you're photographing. The IMO has some very good information about each shower here: International Meteor Organization Calendar. Use this info to see the best time to photograph them and check with the Met Office to see where we are more likely to see clearer skies. NASA says that anywhere between midnight and dawn are good times for viewing the Perseid meteor shower (weather permitting) and do remember to allow time for your eyes to adjust to the dark and, of course, to set your camera gear up.
If you fancy taking your camera out with you here are a few basic tips to help you out:
- You could either use the B setting and go for long exposures but you could have problems with this if you're in a place where there's lots of light pollution. Or use shorter exposures, around 30 seconds, but take more shots that can be stacked together with software.
- Pick your focus target based on the meteor shower and don't assume that the infinity setting will focus on infinity. Just focus on something terrestrial that is some distance from you so the stars will also be sharp.
- Don't get the moon in shot as it will drown out stars and meteors
- Some of it is luck based so don't get disappointed if you miss the first couple.
The BBC and the American Meteor Society both have good guides on photographing meteor showers that are well worth checking out and don't forget to share any images you capture tonight in our gallery.
Here are some top images our members have captured of the Perseid meteor shower previously:
Photo by St1nkyPete
Photo by St1nkyPete