The Perseid meteor shower of 2016 will hit its peak in the Northern Hemisphere, during the nights of Aug. 11 and 12, with potentially up to 200 meteors an hour visible for observers who find themselves in places with dark night skies.
Being able to photograph a meteor shower has always been a challenge for me. The tendency is to simply open up your shutter and point it straight up, but being able to produce a final result that doesn’t just make it looks like a bunch of lines criss-crossing your frame, is fairly difficult.
This is why we are turning to you, and laying down the gauntlet. We challenge you to photograph the Perseid meteor shower of 2016, and show us your images in the coming weeks.
We know this isn’t easy. We know you will have tons and tons of questions. We’re not asking for perfection here, we want you to get outside, and to see what you are able to come up with.
Coming up in September 12-16, we are having Night Photography Week. During that free event, we will be broadcasting live classes that will teach you EVERYTHING about how to take photos at night.
How to locate astronomical events, what gear to use, the apps and tools that help you plan your shoot, what settings to use, as well as cool innovative techniques for bringing to life the amazement that you feel when you look up at the night sky. Night Photography Week will cover it all, and so much more!
So go find your preferred space outside, stay up later than you normally would, and have some fun.
Here are some tips to get you started:
A Few Meteor Shower Photography Tips To Get You Started
1. Find a place with as little light pollution as possible
This may be a difficult one for many people, but the key to being able to witness a meteor shower is being in a location where the lights from nearby cities won’t affect your viewing experience. The light generated from a meteor entering our atmosphere is relatively faint, and if you are seeing a glow from a nearby city, then the chances of you being able to see that shooting star diminish significantly.
You can use sites like Dark Site Finder to get a better sense of where to go.
Additionally, you will ideally find yourself in a place with clear skies. Obviously this isn’t something you can control, but if possible, go to a place with less cloud cover.
2. Figure out which direction to look
I wish it could be as simple as saying, “just look towards the Northwest.” However, all of you will be in different geographic locations, and your points of reference will all be different as well.
There are a number of really helpful apps that you can use to be able to pinpoint where astronomical events will take place in the night sky. I personally use Sky Safari. All you have to do is type in the event, “Perseid” and it will show an overlay of the direction the meteor shower will be coming from.
3. Set your camera on a tripod, and just shoot away!
The settings for your camera will invariably be different for all of you depending on your gear, and where in the world you find yourself. You will have to work to dial this in, but here is a good starting point:
Shutter speed: 20-30 seconds
Aperture: (as wide as possible) f/2.8
Shooting Mode: Continuous
It’s going to take a lot of trial and error, and you will shoot tons of shots that capture no meteors at all, but keep at it.
4. Final tip:
Don’t spend your time staring at the back of your camera. Remember why you are out there, and how amazing it is that you are watching space rocks enter out atmosphere and catch on fire. Take as many pictures as you can, but look at them when you get home. While you are out there, enjoy it, and don’t forget to stand in awe at our incredible universe.
If you find yourself lacking some of the skills to be able to do this, but really want to be able to capture what you see, then I highly recommend signing up for Night Photography Week. Watch the free live broadcasts September 12-16th, and tap into all these skills that have always felt out of reach.
Show Us Your Work!
After you take your photos, tag your photos on Instagram using the hashtag, #nightphotographyweek, and we will feature your work! Also tag your friends, and challenge them to step outside and take pictures as well.
But hurry, this insane astronomical event doesn’t last long. You snooze, you loose.