Sunday, August 12, 2007

It's Shower Time

Early this morning, I gathered together a few things and proceded to do something I do every year at this time: Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower.

It was predicted to be one of the best displays in a long time. Well, so far it hasn't lived up to its expectation. Normal peak times for the shower are on the night of Aug. 11-12 and I was prepared. I did see some good shots, three nice, bright meteors which left a trail behind them as they burned in, but for the most part, anything else from the Perseids was small and dim.

There were two sporadic meteors (sporadics are meteors not associated with the shower being viewed) and one of them was a rather nice gold color. But two sporadics and 10 Perseids don't a meteor shower make.

Nor do they satisfy a watcher like me.

One reason I like to watch meteor showers is that I live in an area which affords me the opportunity to lie down in my backyard and get a nice view of stars and meteors, even with the lights of the city. It's not as good as it was 10 years ago, but still better than the night sky in Chicago 30 years ago. Plus, if I got out away from town to view, the night sky becomes absolutely stunning...almost glowing what with so many stars shining.

But I also like to photograph the showers I watch, in the hopes I can capture a nice shot of a beautiful meteor streaking through the sky.

Last night, I had my camera with me. It's a Canon Digital Rebel. A fairly old camera as digital single lens reflex cameras go, but it does a good job for me in my normal photographic pursuits. But I have only one lens worth using for meteors...a 28-80mm zoom lens. Because my camera has a smaller imaging chip at the point of focus of lens attached to it, it captures a smaller part of the image being projected by the lens. In the case of my camera, the field of view of the lens is equal to a 35mm film camera's field of view with a 45mm lens attached...not the 28mm which is the widest the lens can see.

It's a smaller slice of the sky I see with my camera, but I figure if I ever catch a meteor in the frame, it should look pretty good. But last night wasn't that night. I fired off just under 300 images (30 seconds long) and not one single one of the dozen meteors I saw fell within the view of the camera.

I watched the show for three hours and every time I watched a meteor blaze across a different portion of the sky than that my camera was pointed at, I would think, "Maybe I should move the camera." And then I would think of the grocery know...the line you are NOT in always moves faster than your line until you move to that line. I figured if I moved my camera, nothing would show in that portion of the sky again and dozens of meteors would blaze through the area I just vacated.

I would have gotten one really nice meteor had I pointed the camera to shoot straight up. Two nice ones light up the night sky directly above me. But I didn't reposition the camera's view when the first one flew by and ended up with nothing. Oh, well...shit happens. .

I'll be out tonight pointed to a small slice of the night sky again...hoping to get that great meteor shot again.

Maybe I won't get skunked...again.

And if you tuned in at this time to catch up on the continuing story of my adventures behind The Wall, check back again. It got preempted.

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