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The Perseids Did Not Disappoint!

Fleet console operator Mary Anderson shares her photo and story:

“The Perseids are coming!” That’s enough to get any devoted night sky photographer headed to dark skies. In the San Diego area, my favorite spot is Borrego Springs, which is the International Dark-Sky Association's second Dark-Sky Community. (Flagstaff, AZ, is the first.) 

So I headed over on Friday, August 9, armed with two cameras and assorted gear. The moon was setting early, so the skies would be very dark. Peak showers were expected Sunday night/Monday morning. I was out shooting Friday night until 2 a.m., but meteors were few and far between. I stayed up all night Saturday at a Star Party event. I saw and tried to capture with my camera more meteors and one or two fireballs. Good, but not the “shower” expected.

I decided to stay another day and come home Monday. That gave me an opportunity to photograph the main event. It did not disappoint! I set up two cameras: one with a fish-eye facing north, and another with a wide-angle lens facing east. I knew I would catch something! I set them to fire 20-second shots, one after the other. Started at 9:30 p.m. and left at 4 a.m. I was only planning on staying until 2 a.m. or so, but about then was when the party really started. Meteors were everywhere! There were at least the 60 or so per hour as predicted. I knew both cameras were catching the brighter ones. I left at 4 a.m., happy as could be, with more than six hours of photos, taken every 20 seconds. That’s a LOT to go through, but I did have plenty of good meteor shots to choose from. Here is a photo. It is a composite of 14 photos with 16 meteors. Two shots both had two meteors!

If you missed the Perseids, never fear, the Leonids and Geminids are coming. However, 2013 will not be very good viewing, even in a dark location, as both coincide with the full moon. Moonlight can be lovely, but not when you’re trying to view and/or photograph meteors.  :(