Witness the peak of Perseids Meteor Shower as dark clear skies fall over Thanet this weekend
As the weekend approaches, sky enthusiasts and stargazers are in for a celestial treat. The annual Perseids meteor shower will grace the night skies. This meteor shower, one of the most anticipated events in the cosmic calendar, promises an awe-inspiring display of shooting stars that is sure to captivate both amateur astronomers and seasoned skywatchers alike. It's expected to peak Sat 12th August into Sun 13th August, offering a breathtaking show that will be enhanced by the moon's waning phase and giving us the darkest skies over Thanet this summer.
The Peak of Perseids
The Perseids meteor shower occurs each year as Earth's orbit crosses paths with debris left behind by Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. These tiny particles enter our atmosphere and create the luminous streaks of light that we commonly refer to as "shooting stars". On the night of Sat 12th August into Sun 13th August, the shower is set to reach its climax. And, promises an impressive display of meteors streaking across the night sky.
The Dark Sky Advantage
A key factor that enhances the viewing experience of the Perseids meteor shower this year is the moon's phase. With the moon waning towards its new phase, the nights leading up to and just after the peak will provide exceptionally dark skies. This natural phenomenon allows for a clearer view of the meteors, as the absence of moonlight reduces light pollution and allows the fainter meteors to become visible.
Thanet's Ideal Sky Conditions
Residents of Thanet are in for a treat, as we have super clear night skies on the forecast, making it an excellent location for stargazing and meteor shower observation. The absence of significant light pollution as we face out to sea will mean even the faintest meteors can be spotted against the backdrop of the night sky.
Gather your favourite souls for a stargazing party
One of my fondest memories of childhood summertimes was Perseids peaking each year. I remember my Dad would set the garden up with sun loungers and recliners and he’d wake us up and we’d take our duvets down into the garden and all just lay up looking at them. ‘Ooohing’ and ‘ahhhhing’ at the sky and the longer we gazed the more we’d see in the periphery of our vision.
Capturing the Cosmic Show
You can capture the meteor show on your phone camera as well as a dSLR or mirrorless camera. However, I can’t underscore enough that patience is key. Meteor showers are unpredictable, and you might need to wait a while before capturing that perfect shot. I usually keep shooting images and hope that I manage to capture some while the shutter is open, as by the time we have seen it and fired our brain to press the shutter, the moment has already passed. It really is a game of chance! Ready to play the game and capture the beauty of the Perseids meteor shower with your cameras?
9 Tips for Meteor Photography
1. Choose the Right Location
Find a location away from artificial lights to minimise light pollution. Thanet's clear skies and minimal moon this weekend make it an optimal spot for meteor photography.
2. Use a Sturdy Tripod
Stability is key when capturing long-exposure shots. A sturdy tripod will help prevent camera shake.
3. Wide-Angle Lens
Use a wide-angle lens to capture a larger portion of the night sky.I tend to shoot with my 15-30mm f2.8 or 24mm f1.4 lens.
4. Manual Focus
Set your camera to manual focus and adjust it to infinity to ensure sharpness. If your camera has live view, zoom in on one star and move the focusing ring until it looks pin sharp and then you’re all set.
5. Shutter Speed
Opt for long-exposure shots. Start with a shutter speed of around 15-30 seconds to capture the meteors' trails.
Choose a wide aperture (low f-number) to allow more light into the camera sensor.
7. ISO Settings
Start with a moderate ISO setting (e.g., ISO 800) to prevent excessive noise in your images and tweak this with your shutter speed settings.
8. Interval Shooting
If your camera has interval shooting capabilities, use it to capture multiple shots over time. This increases your chances of catching a meteor in your frame. My wired trigger has a lock function so I can literally just leave the camera clicking away and hope I am pointing at the right point in the sky when a meteor burns up.
9. Test and Adjust
Experiment with your camera settings and review your shots. Adjust your settings as needed to achieve the desired results.
And that is it! Let me know if you head out this weekend and how you get on! This weekend's Perseids meteor shower offers a remarkable opportunity to connect with the cosmos and witness the beauty of celestial phenomena. Whether you're an experienced astrophotographer or a curious skywatcher, be sure to venture out to Thanet's clear skies, armed with your camera and these photography tips, for a chance to capture the mesmerising dance of shooting stars in all their glory.
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