Star Trails During the Camelopardalids Meteor Shower

May 24, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Interested in the goings on of the heavens, I stayed up (or got up) for the peak time of the Camelopardalids meteor shower, 2-4 am of the 24th. Alas, the meteor shower was not as spectacular as I had hoped. I did see four or five streaking meteors so the time spent was not a waste, plus I put it to good use with the camera. 

I  thought as long as I was up and outside, I would use the time to try my hand at star trail photography. The result was interesting and I would definitely try it again, but the post processing took most of the day afterwards. I was hoping that I could catch some of the meteors among the trails. Alas in the final image, no meteor paths showed up. I set the camera up to take 210 30 second exposures to cover most of the two hour peak time. Then I compiled the images into the following star trail image. Part of the failure to capture meteor streaks was probably the limited field of view that I had. The widest prime lens I had for the Sony was the 35 mm Zeiss. A wonderful lens but probably a little narrow to cover the entire sky. Next time, I would try it with a wider 16-35 (Sony has announced a new one, but the Canon version would suffice). There was also quite a bit of light pollution from the surrounding neighborhood. The beach would have been a better location... but live and learn...

a composite photograph showing a two hour period of star movement.Star Trails The streaks are kind of amazing for their various colors and the way it depicts time in a single image. As long as I took all the images, I also composited them into a time lapse video to show the motion in a more traditional manner. The video is 14 seconds long.

Star Trail Time Lapse

Before I went out for the big event, I thought it prudent to do a quick test to make sure the equipment and interval application worked the way I wanted it to. That image may be more interesting than the final one. In it you can see at least two airplanes and one possible meteor streak. This image was only 30 frame over a 15 minute time period so the streaks are much shorter.

Star Trail TestYou can see two airplanes (dotted line streaks) near the middle of the frame moving the opposite direction of the star trails. Just to the right of the first airplane in the upper portion of the frame is a light streak that could be a meteor.


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