Sunday, November 18, 2012

Leonid Meteor Shower - Report

I spent last night from 12 midnight to 3 AM, at the Stone Barn at Allens Pond Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, photographing the night sky and hoping to capture some of the meteors of the Leonid Meteor Shower.

My grandson, who was with me, and I set up our cameras and tripods to capture the beauty of the night.  I first set up my Nikon D 7000 with a Tokina 10-17 mm lens set at 10 mm and f/3.5.  The camera was set up to time lapse to take a picture every 25 seconds and the exposure would be 23 seconds, given me a two second interval in between pictures.  The ISO was set at 3200.  I aim the camera toward the East, because that is where the constellation of Leo would appear over the horizon.  Just after I push the shutter for a test shot, the brightest meteor of the night streaked, right over The Stone Barn.  Reviewing the picture on the LCD screen on the camera, show that I did capture the meteor.  I then started the series of time exposure and have made a video of the sequence.

Utilizing my Nikon D3s with a Tamron 17-35mm lens set at 17 mm and f/3 .5, and the shutter was set for a 25 second exposure.  I aimed this camera more Southeast, so that I could capture the constellation Orion.  I utilized a wired remote to trip the shutter.  I then sat in a chair, with hot coffee, pushing the remote and listening to the sounds of the night, owls hooting in the distance and coyotes howling.  I also at the same time was enjoying the clear beautiful night sky with the myriad of stars, along with the planet Jupiter.

I photographed about an hours worth of the sky with my D3s, and then I changed my shutter speed to bulb, dropped my ISO to 100 and aimed the camera at the North Star, and tripped the shutter and left the camera on for around an hour, so I could obtain star trails.  My only problem was that the security light at the caretakers  residence went on right at the end and basically blew my exposure.  I was able to recover most of the picture and and are presenting it here for you to view.

The only other problem was a drop in temperature, which caused frost to form on the lens and the final pictures were slightly blurry because of the frost.  In fact, when were packing up to leave the the tripod legs had a coating of frost on them.

We did observe a number of meteors, but none was as spectacular as the very first one.

I I invite anybody in the southeastern Massachusetts area, to join me Thursday or Friday night, December 13 and 14th at the Stone Barn, to view the last meteor shower of the year: the Geminids Meteor Shower.  I will post more information later.