This 30-second publicity of a Perseid meteor was taken on Aug. 12, 2016, with a round fish-eye lens in Spruce Knob, West Virginia.
Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA
Wondering how one can seize the lovely, ephemeral streaks of a meteor bathe? Just in time for the Perseids, which peak this weekend (Aug. 11 to 13), this is a rundown by NASA of the finest methods to the phenomenon.
Skywatchers are trying ahead to this 12 months’s Perseid meteor bathe, which will be finest seen after 2 a.m. at your native time on Aug. 11 to 12 and Aug. 12 to 13. Because the moon is a slim crescent and units early, the darkish skies will highlight the peak’s 60 to 70 meteors per hour.
NASA’s No. 1 tip: Get away from metropolis lights and discover someplace darkish! “Too much light and it will be hard for your eyes to see fainter meteors, plus your image will get flooded with the glow of light,” NASA officers said on the agency’s Tumblr page. “Turning down the brightness of the camera’s LCD screen will help keep your eyes adjusted to the dark.” [Perseid Meteor Shower 2018: When, Where & How to See It]
NASA additionally suggests utilizing a tripod, since you want lengthy exposures to seize a meteor’s path throughout the sky. A heavier tripod can assist cut back shaking, however you can too help a lighter tripod with sandbags to make it extra secure or prop up your digicam on one thing else if you do not have a tripod out there.
When you are watching a meteor bathe with the bare eye, it is best to lean again and have a look at the entire sky, and NASA’s digicam advice displays that: Use a wide-angle lens. Meteors can seem all throughout the sky, and a wide-angle lens as a substitute of a zoom lens means it is extra more likely to be in your subject of view.
To hold the digicam from wobbling, NASA additionally suggests utilizing a self-timer or shutter launch cable to begin your shot moderately than urgent the digicam button your self. It may additionally be doable to activate the digicam with a cellular machine, in case your digicam has Wi-Fi, officers added.
You must also make sure you manually focus your digicam — autofocus can have bother fixing on the night time sky. NASA suggests taking take a look at photographs of stars lasting a couple of seconds every and fine-tuning the focus based mostly on how they appear (fuzzy blobs imply you have not centered appropriately). Some cameras might need a zoomable digital viewfinder or live-view choice that lets it mechanically zoom to a star and focus.
Meteors can seem throughout the sky, however typically, they appear to emanate from one level, referred to as the meteor bathe’s radiant. (For the Perseids, that supply is the constellation Perseus.) Aiming your digicam towards that time makes it extra doubtless that you’re going to choose up meteors, NASA mentioned.
Longer exposures are essential to seize meteors, however in case you go away the shutter open too lengthy, you may catch the motion of the stars as Earth rotates. While that may make a cool photograph too, if you would like to keep away from it, you’ll be able to comply with one thing that NASA calls the 500 rule. [Top 10 Perseid Meteor Shower Facts]
“Take 500 and divide it by the size in millimeters of your lens,” NASA officers mentioned in the put up. “The resulting number is the length of time in seconds that you can keep your shutter open before seeing star trails. For example, if you’re using a 20 mm lens, 25 seconds (500 divided by 20) is the longest you can set your exposure time before star trails start to show up in your images.”
After selecting your most publicity time and setting your shutter precedence to that size, NASA mentioned, you’ll be able to attempt some take a look at photographs and let the digicam calculate the different settings for a take a look at shot. If it is too darkish, modify the aperture to a decrease quantity and the ISO to a better quantity for subsequent time — adjusting settings one by one will allow you to get the picture you need.
“With your camera settings adjusted, capturing that perfect photo is just a matter of time and luck, NASA said. “The highest fee of meteors seen per hour is in the hours after midnight and earlier than daybreak. Set up your digicam subsequent to a lounge chair or a blanket to witness the marvel of a meteor bathe for your self — and, with any luck, you will take house some envy-inducing photographs, too!”
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