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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Leonids peak around 4 AM EST on Tuesday
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11/16/2009 10:22:10 AM · #1
The site says 1 AM PST, 4 AM EST is the peak... and that if you're in Europe, between 1 AM and dawn should do it. Anyone going out?

Also, any tips for us novices? My D40's kit lens (AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II) doesn't have a hard focus stop at infinity, has a lot of focus creep, and it definitely won't see the stars well enough to focus on them... should I just manually focus through the viewfinder, switch to auto, AF-L, and fire? Or is there a better way?

ETA: Link to Space.com's page

Message edited by author 2009-11-16 10:23:22.
11/16/2009 11:01:53 AM · #2
The issue is the frequency of the meteorites, and the fact they can appear anywhere in the sky.

You'll only see about one a minute, which means a long exposure is required to have any chance of catching it. Also, the wider the lens the better to take in as much sky as possible.

I'd say go with at least one minute exposures, wide angle as possible, focussed as closely to infinity as you can (you won't be able to see stars through the viewfinder to focus on) - As the shutter speed is long, you can afford to close up the aperture, and hopefully avoid the focus issues this way.

Trial and error!
11/16/2009 11:30:35 AM · #3
Well, since it's pouring outside here in Portugal, fat chance that I will find anything...

George, I had a D40 with the same kit lens, and although it is a bit limited, you can still do good things with it.

Focusing
Try and find a reference point far enough to autofocus the lens. It will be easier than to focus manually on a dark night (been there :)
Shooting
For shooting these things, I tend to shoot several 30s pictures and then use startrails software to put them together. It's easier to get a clear photo like this (except if the meteorite passes between two shots:P)
If you have a remote trigger this would be perfect, since you can lock it in shoot mode.
PS - turn off any long exposure noise reduction, as it will drastically delay the time between photos.

Good luck, and please post some pictures if you can.

Cheers,
Joao
11/16/2009 01:14:54 PM · #4
Originally posted by sarampo:

Well, since it's pouring outside here in Portugal, fat chance that I will find anything...

George, I had a D40 with the same [...] please post some pictures if you can.

Cheers,
Joao

Thanks for the tips. I took about 100 shots of the Perseids last year and got only one meteor... in a blurry shot. I turned off noise reduction a long time ago, both because I like to be my original as... original as possible, and because it took forever to process. Don't have a remote trigger, but I do have "DIYPhotobits.com Camera Control 4.1," so I can take my laptop along and fire remotely using the USB cable... and I can do Bulb mode on that, too. Would a small aperture/low-ISO shot still capture meteors with something like a 5 min exposure?
11/16/2009 02:11:01 PM · #5
I haven't had clear weather for a meteor shower in ages. It's always cloudy here.
11/16/2009 02:39:07 PM · #6
Originally posted by george917:

Originally posted by sarampo:

Well, since it's pouring outside here in Portugal, fat chance that I will find anything...

George, I had a D40 with the same [...] please post some pictures if you can.

Cheers,
Joao

Thanks for the tips. I took about 100 shots of the Perseids last year and got only one meteor... in a blurry shot. I turned off noise reduction a long time ago, both because I like to be my original as... original as possible, and because it took forever to process. Don't have a remote trigger, but I do have "DIYPhotobits.com Camera Control 4.1," so I can take my laptop along and fire remotely using the USB cable... and I can do Bulb mode on that, too. Would a small aperture/low-ISO shot still capture meteors with something like a 5 min exposure?

I doubt you'd be able to go to 5 minutes without seeing light pollution creeping in. The best approach is trial and error. Setup a few test shots first, play with the shutter speed, ISO and aperture. If you can get good clear star trails with your test settings then you should also be able to capture the meteorite streaks as they're about the same brightness.
11/16/2009 05:37:33 PM · #7
Hi George,

Since you can go tethered with a PC, then you're a step ahead.
You can go for 5m, but it's true that you will have much light from everywere.
The remote softwares have always a function of time lapse. Just set the shutter speed for 30s and the time lapse function to 31s intervals (to allow for the buffer).
Also, shooting in RAW in startrails doesn't seem to me very helpful, because RAW files can have more lost highlights than shadows, but if storage is not a problem, then go for it.

Settings for me that have worked, is ISO 200 (on a D40 is as low as it gets) and f/11ish.
Just take a 30s photo and ajust by that. If you go for 5 or 10m, maybe go up to f/14.

Best of luck
Joao
11/16/2009 06:11:26 PM · #8
FWIW the show is supposed to be a lot better in Asia than in North America or Europe.

NASA article
11/16/2009 06:13:35 PM · #9
Originally posted by george917:

Would a small aperture/low-ISO shot still capture meteors with something like a 5 min exposure?


' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/105000-109999/105457/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_833992.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/105000-109999/105457/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_833992.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' This picture was taken with 30s exposures, but trails are not the same as meteors, but just to get a notion. ISO 100, f/8.

Cheers,
Joao
11/16/2009 10:30:55 PM · #10
@sarampo - 203 exposures???? Am I reading the description correctly??
11/17/2009 03:48:28 AM · #11
Originally posted by amandak:

@sarampo - 203 exposures???? Am I reading the description correctly??


Hi Amanda. Yes, you've read correctly :)
It was actually quite easy, as I have a remote wired trigger, and it has a B-lock (you can lock the trigger), so it does the same function as you being with your finger pressing on the button without letting go. So I just set for 30s, and then let it do the exposures.

And 203 x 30 seconds equals 101 minutes, little over a hour and a half.
I was at the time with ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31.gif', '/') + 1) . ' insomniac and I've done several exposures, whilst he did just one, and his as too washed away, because it's so difficult to balance aperture and exposure. And after one and a half hours works, it's difficult to make many attempts :P

Also, the software to put the images together is so simple and quick, it took about 3m to compose the final shot.

Joao
11/17/2009 06:43:38 AM · #12
I saw some lovely meteorites last night. The best was one that looked like it was dropping straight down, very bright - it looked like there was a hint of green in the colour! - I could even see a smoke trail.
11/17/2009 07:18:28 AM · #13
Well, they SAID it'd clear up to about 10-20% cloud cover by midnight, and it was still cloudy around 4 AM so I just went to bed (this is in Romania). According to Space.com, there is also a thousand year old cloud that should be visible from Europe tonight, but then again... it's a thousand years old (weak), so I might have to be out in the middle of nowhere to see/capture anything, even if it does clear up completely. Maybe I'll take the slow train to one of the villages east of here if it's clear...

Message edited by author 2009-11-17 07:20:04.
11/17/2009 08:09:21 AM · #14
It is expected that another enhanced return of the Leonid meteor shower will be observed tonight (17-18)/11/2009 around 2200 UT which is around midnight Jordan time and 5 pm EST. I was hoping of getting some tips of camera settings and lenses to take some effective sky photos.
Many Thanks
Tareq
11/17/2009 08:13:23 AM · #15
So I use the 10 mm on my 10-22 canon lens, with an aperture of 8 and ISO of 100, but it is so dark where I am going I can leave the lens open all night!
11/17/2009 12:09:12 PM · #16
Originally posted by HighNooner:

it is so dark where I am going I can leave the lens open all night!

The longer the exposure, the higher the noise. Also, you may not see a lot of them through all the star trails. I'd say 30sec exposures now (so that the stars are nice and still), and 5-6h exposures when you're not shooting meteors. If it's too dark, bump the ISO to 200 and/or open up to f/5.6.

Message edited by author 2009-11-17 12:09:37.
11/17/2009 12:31:23 PM · #17
Originally posted by HighNooner:

It is expected that another enhanced return of the Leonid meteor shower will be observed tonight (17-18)/11/2009 around 2200 UT which is around midnight Jordan time and 5 pm EST.


Remember that those published times are simply estimates of what might be peak observation times, based on previous data and models of the debris fields. For most showers, definitely including the Leonids, you can observe the shower several nights (in both directions -- before and after the peak).

I just mention this because some people have an unreal expectation of what a shower looks like -- they see "a time" published and they think they've got to be out there and ready to watch, right at that time, like it's a TV show. It doesn't work anything like that. ;) You can watch "the show" for several days on both sides of a published peak time -- the peak is just an educated guess on approximately what time may result in the most observations (i.e. how many meteors you see per minute), but it's not like "pow" here come the meteors, and 30 minutes later they are gone.

In general, anyone's best bet is to observe the night sky in as dark an area as possible and see what happens. Best observation times are from after midnight standard time for your time zone (i.e. account of DST if where you live is presently in DST at the night of observation) until daybreak -- as you are physically on the "debris-field-facing-side" of the Earth at that time. You can still see backscatter meteors before midnight standard time, but they are less likely.

Another general tip, as I heard this seriously misrepresented on a news broadcast yesterday... The name of a shower is based upon where the radiant of the shower appears to be in the night sky for the particular time of observation. What does that mean? If you could trace the directions of the meteor trails back to one point (or really one "area" of the sky -- they won't converge on a single true "point")... that area will be in the named constellation. It does NOT mean you need to be looking at that constellation to see the meteors. (On the news last night, the broadcaster specifically said you need to have a view of Leo, and be "looking at the constellation Leo" to see the shower -- I wanted to reach into the TV and smack him -- I have no idea where they get bogus information like that...). Any meteor shower can be seen across the entire sky -- there is no "place to look" -- other than whatever part of the sky is darkest. The radiant for a shower is academic and used for naming convenience.

Anyway, enough rambling -- I just had to get a couple of those off my chest, since they seem to come up when people starting asking about meteor showers. ;)
11/17/2009 12:45:29 PM · #18
250 or so 30sec exposures from 4-6:30ish & all i got were some crummy satellites
ISO800 f/5.6 16mm fisheye
My guess is (a)to much light pollution (b) should have racked it down to f/3.5 & did 10sec shots ...

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