The 2018 Perseid meteor shower is just around the corner and will be treating star gazers with one of the most beautiful light shows of the year.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, the Perseids peak this weekend, from Sunday afternoon until the early hours of Monday morning. This gives you enough time to plan a special nighttime outing and catch the famous shooting stars during their most spectacular performance.
The Perseids occur each year when Earth passes through the dusty trail of comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle and tiny debris left over from the object’s previous travels burn up in our atmosphere.
This year, NASA estimates that we’ll be seeing the Perseids streak across the sky at rates of 60 to 70 meteors per hour. Although not quite as glamorous as during outburst years, when the shooting stars came tumbling down in waves of 150 to 200 per hour, the 2018 Perseid meteor shower is still bound to make a powerful impression, so be ready for an amazing celestial display.
Get The Best Photos Of The Perseid Meteor Shower
As luck would have it, the peak of the Perseids falls on a moonless night, since our natural satellite will be moving into its “new” phase on August 11. This means we’ll be having the absolute best conditions for both viewing the meteor shower and snapping some awesome shots of the falling space rocks.
The show starts from 4 p.m. EDT on August 12 until 4 a.m. on August 13, which leaves you plenty of time to take in the magic and point your camera at the sky to grab some cool photos of the shooting stars.
In order to make the best of your experience, NASA has put together a few tips that might turn your photos of the astronomical event into a real masterpiece.
10 Tips From NASA On Shooting The Perseids
First and foremost, you should keep in mind that photographing a meteor shower might be trickier than you imagine, notes the space agency.
“Taking photographs of a meteor shower can be an exercise in patience as meteors streak across the sky quickly and unannounced, but with these tips — and some good fortune — you might be rewarded with a great photo.”
Make sure to follow all these steps for a great photo shoot of the Perseid meteor shower.
- Do your research
The highest rate of shooting stars during this weekend’s peak will be in the hours after midnight and before dawn.
- Find a dark viewing spot
City lights could obscure the show and will make it difficult for you to spot the Perseids, let alone photograph them. Get away from the city and find a nice, secluded place with dark skies.
- Use a tripod to stabilize your camera
“Meteor photography requires long exposures, and even the steadiest of hands can’t hold a camera still enough for a clear shot,” notes NASA.
- Go for a wide-angle lens
Unlike a zoom lens, a wide-angle lens can cover a larger portion of the sky, which will give you the best chance of capturing a falling meteor.
- Use the self-timer to minimize shaking
While the tripod will do its best to get rid of the unwanted shaking of your camera, using the self-timer or, better yet, a shutter release cable will prevent shaky hands from ruining a great photo.
- Skip autofocus
The best way to go is to focus your lens manually, says NASA.
“Setting your focus to infinity will get you close, but chances are you’ll have to take some test images and do some fine tuning,” the space agency points out.
To test out your images, snap a few-second shot and then check it out on your camera screen. Zooming in on a star will show you just how sharp the camera focus is.
- Aim the camera at the radiant
The Perseid meteor shower looks like it’s originating from the Perseus constellation, so that’s where you’ll want to aim your camera to in order to make sure you catch the falling meteors.
- Pay attention to your exposure time
If you don’t want to capture the star movement on your photo, calculate your exposure time. You can do this by following the 500 Rule, which means you need to divide the number 500 by the length in millimeters of your lens to see how long you need to keep your shutter open.
“For example, if you’re using a 20 mm lens, 25 seconds (500 divided by 20) is the longest you can set your exposure time before star trails start to show up in your images,” shows NASA.
- Get creative
Experiment with your maximum exposure time and test out the other camera settings, such as aperture and ISO.
- Have a great time!
Remember to enjoy the show. After all, the Perseid meteor shower only comes but once a year.