Every year, on one of the beautiful August nights, you can see an equally remarkable natural phenomenon — the Perseid meteor shower. The meteors are called Perseids because the point from which they appear to fall when looking at the sky is in the constellation Perseus.
This year, the meteor shower will reach its peak on the morning of August 12, 2021.
- Under favorable weather conditions and the absence of urban illumination, starting from midnight and all night, you can observe up to 110 meteors per hour, or 1–2 meteors per minute! The Perseids promise to be the best meteor shower of the year, according to the Moscow Planetarium.
Photographing a meteor shower
Find a dark place.
Although the Perseids are bright enough to be seen even with the naked eye, it is worth finding a place with low levels of light pollution to fully experience the grandeur of the moment.
Use the light pollution map and find one of the darkest places near you. That way you can see a lot more. There is also such a map from Dark Sky Place.
Is special equipment needed?
The best camera is the one you have, but when it comes to shooting the Perseids, it’s useful to have a few specific things.
Renowned astrophotographer Bettimaya Futt and founder of Women in Astrophotography @womeninastro uses equipment such as the Canon 6D and Canon 5D Mark IV, Rokinon 24mm f/1.5 and Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lenses, not to mention a tripod and intervalometer, to shoot.
“I have found that 14 or 24mm lenses are good and 24mm is even better, but I always try to mount two cameras so I don’t have to compromise,” she says.
- The intervalometer is the key to time lapse, I set it to the shortest possible interval because I want to make sure that I have as much time as possible to capture these meteors in the frame.
Set special “astronomical” settings
Speaking of exposure, it’s important to get familiar with your astrophotography settings before you start photographing the Perseid meteor shower.
Try the following settings: shutter speed from 20 to 30 seconds, ISO from 2000 to 6400 depending on the aperture, which try to make as wide as possible.
Preparing for photography
Capturing a meteor shower takes a lot more than just seeing the gorgeous scenery and pointing the camera.
Do your reconnaissance better during the day when you have full peripheral vision, because in the dark, with the tunnel view of your headlamp, it’s difficult.
In addition to reconnaissance, do not forget about your equipment. Do not take only one headlamp with you, for example. Take two in case one burns out.
Tell someone where you are going to go and when you plan to return. Also take a paper card in case your phone runs out of power.
Don’t forget things like bug spray if you’re shooting outdoors.
Download the dedicated app
Applications for astrophotography abound, here are a few of them.
- Stellarium is a free application for computers. It will show you the night sky on any day of the year throughout history. You can specify a day and time to see where different objects, such as the Milky Way, were at a particular moment.
- SkySafari Pro will help you with planning;
- PhotoPills is another useful tool that many astrophotographers rely on. With it, you will always find the right place on the star map;
- Star Walk 2 is an app that will help you find a specific constellation or star in the sky and tell you their story. In addition, by pointing your phone’s camera at the sky, the app will show you which constellation is right in front of you.
Install a timelapse and enjoy the views calmly
Time-lapse photography gives you the opportunity to capture the moment and choose the best shot: the “set and forget” method allows you not only to capture the miracle of nature on camera, but also to enjoy it with your own eyes.