Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Perseid Meteor Shower in Central Oregon

Well, Sunday night I was out again watching the Perseid Meteor Shower. I was getting my viewing area ready for the vigil which I had planned to begin about 90 minutes later, but during the set up, I witnessed two beautiful and one okay meteor streak through the sky. So, I ran in the house, gathered the rest of my gear and brought it out.

I also brought out my camera...again. I set up near my lounge chair and after a few shots had been taken, decided to look at the composition. There were tree branches in it and near the top, a phone line, so I decided to relocate it. However, like the dumbass I can be sometimes, I picked up the entire rig and when I made a slight turn in the darkness, I whopped the camera against the side of an apple tree near my set up area.

Fearing the worst, I set the camera up and took a quick shot. The camera worked fine and when I looked at the image, I realized when the rig hit the tree, it moved my focus setting. A week or so ago, I remembered that the lens I was using didn't have a marked setting for Infinity focus, so I did a few shots, determined the correct way to set the manual focus of the lens to infinity and marked the position with two lines that I line up. So, I turned on my trusty red light flashlight, located to the lines and lined them up.

I then set the camera to shoot an image every 30 seconds, and I settled into my lounge chair and began a wonderful night of meteor viewing. I started at 11:30 pm (Pacific daylight time) and quit at 4:10am. During that time, I saw more than 100 meteors in the small section of sky I can see. Many were bright fireballs, but most were average everyday meteor. About 70 percent of them were Perseids, while the other 30 percent originated from radiants the north and south of the Perseids shower radiant. I know the southern radiant is from the Delta Aquids or something like that, but the northern radiant has me baffled.

While I watched the meteors blaze through the night sky, I saw several which may or may not have entered the camera's field of view. I was looking forward to checking the images later. Well, four and half hours later, I was cold (I live in a desert climate so it gets friggin cold at night, even in the summer) and tired, so I brought everything inside and collapsed on my bed.

After finishing my morning ritual, I stuck the CF card in my computer and ate breakfast while it transfered the 410 images I shot that night. When I looked at the first couple of images, everything was fine. They were the shots taken before the camera met the tree. But the images after that were blurred and distorted...every one of them.

And what was even more depressing was one image had what looked like a really nice meteor flashing through it.

Talk about wanting someone around to kick my ass (I can't do it myself). The lens took the beating and, like the 98 pound weakling, didn't survive. Now I have no wide angle lens...at least not until I can afford to replace the busted one.

I shall be a bit more careful with how I handle things around here. Of course, every time I screw something of mine up, I say the same thing, but what the hell at least I am trying.

Until I continue my interrupted blog of a couple of days ago, take care all you loyal readers...all of you...and watch out for those apple trees at night.

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