Perseid Meteor Shower
August 12, 2021
The wee hours of August 12 were supposed to be the peak for the Perseid meteor shower, so I thought I would set up my camera on the deck and let it take a lot of pictures over time in hopes of getting some meteor pictures. The sky was clear on August 9, so I set up the camera and ran a test. I didn't see any meteors in the pictures, but I did get the blinking lights of a plane flying over.
Those pictures turned out well enough that tweaked the exposure a bit for the real run. On the night of August 11 there was a solid-looking cloud cover. I couldn't see any stars. It was still overcast at midnight, but was supposed to clear up. So I went ahead and set my camera up to shoot every 25 seconds for 15 second exposures in hopes that I might catch some meteors. I set the zoom lens to 19mm. I dozed for a while and went out to bring in the camera. It had taken 627 pictures every 25 seconds from 12:48 to 5:11 am EDT. It took me a while to go through them all, but I was glad to find two meteors and one satellite pass by.
This picture taken at 3:49 am gives you the view my camera could see from my deck looking between the trees behind the house and the cover over my porch. Then there is a detail from that picture.
This one was taken at 4:57 am. The star cluster near it is called the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters, since with the naked eye you could make out seven stars, at least in ancient Greece. There are of course many more, about 3000 stars. Through binoculars, they look spectacular, like jewels. The stars are slightly elongated due to the motion of the earth and show up more at greater magnification. For them to be sharper, you need to have the exposure about 10 seconds or less, but then you decrease greatly your chance of catching meteors.
The meteor is to the right and just below the Pleiades. In the upper left corner, you might be able to see a faint straight line that is somewhat longer. I take that to be a satellite passing by. Below you can see details of each of them.
I decided that the movement of the clouds during the first 112 minutes might make an interesting time-lapse video. I posted the 18-second video on YouTube at https://youtu.be/AXtHXSHtieA. Watch the 4K version if you can and at full screen so you can see all the stars.
The streak you see about 13 seconds in is an airplane. It appears to me to have its landing lights on and is getting lower as it passes overhead on its way to CLT. That picture was taken at 2:14 am. Here is a closer look: