Stargazing During Perseid Meteor Shower 2007

Starting at about 8:45p.m. last night, John and I went outside to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower (peak viewing time was between 9 and 10 p.m.). I took my camera and tripod to try to get some good night shots, which I’d never tried with my camera before. I wasn’t necessarily expecting to catch a photo of a meteor streaking across the sky, but I thought I’d see if I could get some star photos and what not. I was using a 30 second exposure and an ISO that was just a bit too sensitive, but live and learn!

The first shot I was able to capture was a time-lapse photo of an airplane flying across the sky – LOL (the inset is a closeup of the repeating trail:

Then, I was able to get a decent shot of the Big Dipper!

I saw a couple of REALLY cool orange fireballs shoot across the sky and a number of smaller streaks as well – it’s funny how they shoot out as so many different and unpredictable angles!

After a while, I took a break from cranning my neck back at the sky and looked in the opposite direction where Jupiter, or what I’m PRETTY sure was Jupiter, was shining very brightly just above our roofline. I took a couple of pictures, which really looked only like dots of lopsided light until I blew them up to 300% (thus the pixellation). Here are two of the photos – there seems to be something behind Jupiter. Maybe another planet in conjunction? Probably too big for a moon. Not a camera jiggle, as I have a number of camera jiggle shots – these are different, and it’s not an ‘echo’ or anything as it only shows up around Jupiter. Anyway, I’m sure there’s a good explanation for it (please leave a comment if you have one!), but since I’m the most amateur kind of amateur astronomer you can get, I have no clue.

After a while our necks were hurting and we were getting chilly, and peak time was over, so we went inside. The biggest surprise came when I was looking through the photos after I’d downloaded them to my computer from my camera, and discovered that I had actually caught a meteor streaking through a shot! You can see most of the big dipper to the left of the meteor too (the bottom star was lost behind a tall tree, as the constellation was low in the sky).

And here’s a closeup of the shooting star itself – notice the trail is a lovely glowing orange color:

Was I surprised! Shocked is more like it. It was the second to last photo I took and by that time I was just aiming at a patch of sky and taking a few 30 second exposure shots. I must have been looking somewhere else when this one happened, because I certainly didn’t see it with my naked eyes. How cool is that!! I’ve submitted a copy of the photo to Space Weather – we’ll see if they post it. All in all a pretty fun evening!

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