To Catch A Shooting Star - The Perseid Meteor Shower Radiant

Perseid radiant

Alternative resolutions: 50% 1273x1273, 100% 2546x2546 - cropped from original 4096x4096 full frame

About this Image

Subject Perseid Shower Radiant
Objects Constellation of Perseus, Perseid shower radiant, Perseids, The Double Cluster - h & Chi Persei AKA NGC 884 & NGC 869
Description The image shows several Perseid meteors - eight in all if you look closely for faint ones. These shooting stars can appear anywhere the sky, but if you examine their tracks you will see they all point back to this area, termed "the radiant", located near the top of the constellation of Perseus. It's at this point in the sky that the dusty remnants of the tail of Comet Swift-Tuttle's orbit intersects with Earth's own orbit. These fast moving (~130,000 MPH), typically sand grain sized dust particles, burn up in Earth's atmosphere creating these beautiful shooting star trails.

Technical Details

Date(s) 2012 08 12
Location Gardnerville, Nevada, USA
Environment Sky was clear but Perseus low and mostly within light pollution dome to east of site. Waning crescent moon phase,
Optics Pentax 67 50mm @ F4
Filters Astrodon Lum
Mount Takahashi EM10
Guiding SBIG ST402
Camera FLI Microline 16803
Exposure 40x300s
Acquisition Maxim/DL 5
Processing Calibrated in CCDStack, processed in Photoshop CS.
Notes A tracking mount was used to "lock on" to and follow the radiant across the sky while all the individual exposures were taken. The exposures were then combined together using the brightest pixels at each position from the stack of exposed frames, ensuring that each Perseid meteor shows up clearly in the composite image.

Of the 40 frames, only 9 had any Perseids in. Ideally a shorter focal length lens would be used for this kind of shot to provide a wider field of view - and a better chance of catching more shooting stars.

The 50mm lens shows a fair amount of optical abberation in the corners of the frame and should really have been stopped down more to try reduce this.

The image is a quarter crop from the original full frame, but as chance would have it, it holds virtually all the captured Peseids. The full frame centers on the Double Cluster and encompases the constellation of Casiopea in the top left.

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