Leonid Meteor Shower

My sis' and I went up Mt. Tam and camped out in an open space just past the park barricade to see the Leonid Meteor Shower tonight -- and it was amazing (supposedly the most active in the next 100 years or so). We were there for the 2:30AM PST peak; I saw four shooting stars at the same time: a new record for me! There were a variety of shooting star strains: slow, burning orange ones, fast white streaks, blazing green persisting trails, and more. One star left a trail that was etched into the sky for more than 15 seconds. We also saw an incredibly bright streak that burst into a green flash at the end. And all the while, the almost-full moon illuminated the entire sky. I can only imagine what it would have been like with a new moon (which the Perseids happened to coincide with, not long ago. Now that was a treat. :).

It was funny: because Wendy and I were situated just past the barricade, a number of people struck up conversations with us on their way in and out. We felt like gatekeepers. Shortly after we arrived, I gave some pretty piss-poor advice to a hapless couple because I didn't know which direction north was, and because we hadn't had enough time to be able to tell where the meteors were coming from (and I have no idea what Leo looks like). After a few minutes, it became obvious that most of the meteors were originating from a single point in the sky. Too bad no one else asked me for advice after we figured that out.

I had a few problems getting a decent photo:

1. Almost-full moon. Couldn't open up the aperture too much, or else sky would bleach. This means that only the very brightest streaks were recorded. I saw dozens of bright trails while the camera was exposing, but only see ONE in the results.

2. I'm a moron. Focused at infinity initially, but changed focus on accident. Results trails are blurry.

3. I'm a moron. Didn't have full battery, and had to abort early.

Ah well. There's always next year. :) I stacked 33 images (taken before the batteries died) to get the shot with trails, below. You can see how bright the sky is.

Also, Adam posted pics of what I did all day. :)


Leonid Meteor Showers: combined image from 33 90-second exposures (you can only see one meteor)

The faint meteor in this photo was a really bright one with a big flash at the end. You can't tell, in this photo. :(