Last weekend was supposed to be one of the best of the year for meteor watching. We went out to 29 Palms on Friday night, and I got the smart idea to set up my camera on "remote control" and let it do all the work while I slumbered through the night, hoping I might get lucky and catch a random meteor. I have a shutter activator that you can program (delay, interval between exposures, and total number of exposures). So about 10 PM I set up my tripod outside my bedroom door and pointed my camera toward the Milky Way. I set the delay for about 5 hours (somewhere I read the best sky shots are between about 3 AM and 4 AM, and that's a good time for meteors as well), set the delay time between exposures for 3 minutes, and set the number of exposures for 30. Then I set up my camera: f/2.8, 20 second exposure, ISO 1600, 16mm wide angle. As I went to bed, I crossed my fingers my camera would still be there in the morning! (we're pretty remote, so fairly safe to do this). Thankfully my camera was still there on Saturday AM. I anxiously checked to see what I captured, and I had 30 photos more or less identical to this one:
I got pretty excited because I thought that streak you see across the Milky Way must be a meteor. However, I'm pretty sure it's just a plane. Either way, a good shot of the Milky Way considering it's right outside my bedroom door. Next, I layered all 30 photos in Photoshop. With the exposures spaced 3 minutes apart, the stars become a series of dots as they move across the sky, and the Milky Way disappears! Very cool!!
On Saturday night after the sun set, we packed up the Jeep, found a secluded road in the park, and relaxed under the stars, scanning the heavens for shooting meteors.
Hard to tell from this dark, grainy photo, but that's my wife and I and our chihuahua lying on cots under the beautiful Milky Way sky in Joshua Tree. A fun way to spend a couple hours!!