Meteor Shower

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Josh66, May 3, 2008.

  1. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Wasn't sure where to put this, if it's in the wrong place please move it.

    Anyone planning on watching the meteor shower (Eta Aquarids) Sunday night?
    I'm sure I'll still be up that late (supposed to peak around 4 am).

    Anyone (astrostu ;) ) have tips on how to shoot a meteor shower?
     
  2. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I do have a few specific questions...

    First, 35mm or digital? I'm thinking 35mm due to the long exposures.

    If I go with film, would it be best to use a low ISO film (slowest I have on tap is Efke KB 50, next slowest after that is Kodak Portra 160VC)?

    Second, exposure? I assume you want a small aperture, focus to infinity, put it on bulb and wait a couple hours...?
     
  3. christopher walrath

    christopher walrath No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I would try a larger aperture as that would brighten up anything light that travels across the front of the camera, still focused from near infinity to infinity. And, I like your rendetion of a Jeep grill for your user name. It's a Jeep thing, you wouldn't understand.
     
  4. Rabieshund

    Rabieshund TPF Noob!

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    Yeah large aperture is the way to go.
     
  5. Varuna

    Varuna TPF Noob!

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    What about lenses? I wouldn't mind trying this but I'm poor and only have my 18-55mm Canon kit lens, any hope of me actually getting decent shots?

    Though, I guess that depends on wether or not I can see them from the Calgary outskirts. Any links with info on this shower and where it will be visible? (Eta Aquarids makes no sense to me =P )
     
  6. astrostu

    astrostu Guest

    One of the most important things you have to realize about photographing meteor showers is that I would say over 50% of it is luck and how long you're willing to sit around doing nothing. This is because meteor shower strength is notoriously difficult to predict, and you generally have less than 1 meteor per minute. Plus, they can really appear pretty much anywhere in the sky, it's just that if you trace them all back (draw a long line through all of them) they will emanate from a single location (the radiant) which is how they're named - in this case, appearing to come from Eta Aquarius (I think that's the 4th-brightest star in the constellation Aquarius).

    With that in mind, there are a few things you can do, with two main approaches.

    The first approach is, "Lots of short photos." This is where you use a large aperture and take photographs more often, hoping that you'll get a meteor in the exposure. You have to take them more often because with a larger aperture, sky glow will become an issue more quickly, and you'll just get an orange-red glow over the entire picture.

    The second approach is, "Fewer longer photos." This is the opposite, where you have a smaller aperture, meaning you may miss fainter meteors (though they're usually quite bright in comparison with most stars), but you don't have to weed through so many pictures of a blank star field.

    As for lens, you want the widest-angle you have because the meteors, as I said before, can really be anywhere in the sky, they just appear to emanate from the radiant if you draw a line back, tracing their path. You could pick a spot near the radiant and just stay there, hoping that the next meteor chooses that direction and that location to hit Earth's atmosphere.

    I don't really mean to discourage folks (as I think the tone of this reply is fairly negative), as watching meteor showers can be a lot of fun. But, photographing them is much more difficult -- your eyes have a near-180° field of view, but an 18mm lens on a 1.6x crop body offers only a 64° horizontal field, and so your likelihood of photographing the meteor is much less likely than just observing it with your eyes.
     
  7. Battou

    Battou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The tone of that is that of experiance, I actually feel encouraged to go for it after reading it.
     
  8. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Well, it's too cloudy here anyway...

    Thanks for the tips, Stu.

    I still want to give this a shot though. Maybe the Perseids, good excuse for a camping trip. Get somewhere with less light pollution and hope for clear skies.
    Hmm... I guess I need to get a super-wide lens before that.
     

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