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Regular Meteor Showers

Members are encouraged to watch out for regular meteor showers. One of the best known is the Perseid meteor shower where the maximum this year is on August 12th and 13th. Maximum occurs with the radiant, (the point in the sky the meteors appear to come from), rising high up in the north-east, but will be better in the early hours of the 13th when the radiant will be near its highest, but activity should be visible all night. Since the moon will be almost full, you will get the best views when it is still low in the sky at dusk and dawn. We should see Perseid rates of at least 60 per hour from a dark site.

The Perseids are fragments of Comet Swift/Tuttle and are the fastest meteors of all often producing very bright fireballs and trains lasting several seconds. Photographing them is relatively easy. All you need is an ordinary SLR camera and tripod and some fairly fast film, such as ASA400, use the fastest lens you have, say F2, F1.7, even an F1.8, and point your camera to about 50 up in the sky and about 40 from the radiant, for best results. Wide-angle lenses are not really suited to meteor photography, granted, they cover more sky, but the images will be very small and you will not pick up the fainter meteors on film.

Don't use too fast a film coupled with a long exposure of say 15 minutes or you will suffer from fogging from the skyglow, try ASA400 or ASA800 and exposures of between 5 and 15 minutes, and you should get at least the brighter meteors.

 

Also, make yourself a little lens hood from a piece of light cardboard to stop your lens dewing up during the exposure. You will also need a locking cable release plus a spare one just in case.

Unfortunately, meteor photography is a 'hit-and-miss' exercise, so be prepared to waste film, I have been known to use a roll of 36 exposures, and not get one meteor! As is more often the case, there will be a beauty just where the camera isn't pointing so it's better to have two (or more) cameras pointing in several different directions, in this way you can cover more of the sky and run the chance of catching that big fireball!

Like the one captured below!

fireball.gif (16510 bytes)

For more information on the dates and times of various meteor showers please contact the Club Chairman, John McConnell via:

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