Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography © Brian A. Morganti

Perseid Meteor Shower

August 13, 2012


These two images were taken the night after the peak of the annual Perseid meteor shower.  The sky was clear and I observed about 20-30 meteors per hour between 1am and 5am, but most were very fast and small.  I used my 5D M2 at ISO800 to capture 1.5 minute exposures with my 16-35mm f2.8 lens set to 16mm at f4.0.  This covered a very large area of sky but resulted in meteors that are very small on the images.  I was hoping for one large and slow moving meteor to cross the image frame.  So, for the next meteor shower I think I will zoom in tighter towards the radiant point in hopes of capturing something a bit more impressive---perhaps at 40mm or more. Out of 160 images about a dozen of those recorded faint meteors, but were only marginally visible at 100% on a 27" monitor.  Here are the best two images of the lot.

The top image shows a very colorful meteor in the right side of the frame---heading northeast from the radiant point near the Double Cluster in the center of the frame.  The Milky Way runs diagonally down the middle and the Double Cluster between Cassiopeia and Perseus which is just about dead center in the frame.  Bookmarking the Perseid meteor on the left side of the frame is the faint patch of the Andromeda Galaxy.  

The bottom image above also shows another short, but colorful, meteor heading southwest immediately from the radiant point near the head of Perseus.  The Andromeda Galaxy can again be seen to the left center of the image.  A long trail of a meteor can be seen skipping along as it heads south in this image.  If you look carefully at the point where this meteor begins near the bottom of the photo, you will see that it starts between two moderately bright stars.  If you connect these two stars to the next brightest star to their left (and just a little lower) this would outline the head of Perseus, which is cone shaped…or some same looks like a "dunce hat".  The short colorful meteor is also emanating from near this point.  The Milky Way towards Cassiopeia appears in the lower left of the image.  


  • Date & Location:  August 13, 2012 - Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  Calm winds, Temperature 60F.

  • Sky Conditions:  Clear with average transparency.  

  • SQM-L: 20.52 until moonrise at 3am.

  • Optics:  Canon EOS 16-35mm f2.8L @ 16mm f3.5

  • Filter:  None

  • Mount:  AstroTrac TT320X

  • Guiding:  None

  • Camera:  Canon 5D MII unmodified

  • Exposure:  160 - 1.5 minute subs @ ISO800

  • Calibration Frames:  None

  • Processing:  PS CS6, GradientXTerminator, NIK filters  

  • Comments:  A crescent moon began to degrade my images after 3am since I was shooting such a wide swatch of the sky.  Although the wide angle would have been great had a very bright and long track meteor occurred, it was less than desirable for the mostly fast and short meteors observed.  Future attempts will be zoomed in more at the risk of missing some meteors, but those that are captured are likely to be of more interest among the background stars and/or deep sky objects. 


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