Image Credit & Copyright: David Kingham.
I love this image from David Kingham of the 2012 Geminids over the “Eye of the Needle” located in Custer State Park, South Dakota. This image is a combined 38 images shot at 30 second exposures over the course of 8 hours that night. 36 of the images were to capture the meteors, 1 was for the stars in the image and 1 was a dark frame (same length exposure with the lens cap on, when added reduces noise in the image). David is a long time favorite of mine and that’s not hard to understand when you see his work.
This image speaks to a few things. One; if you plan to do some quality night sky shooting, do just that; PLAN. I’ve never even heard of this location before and I’m kind of a National Park, State Park nut. If you take the time to look or even search the net, you can find some mint locations. Two; I know I didn’t go into detail about the story of this image which I always read when photographers take the time to post them but find someone with the same passion as you that’s willing to possibly go waste the entire night sitting around and having great conversation. If you have a great location, some time and great friends then the hobby of night sky shooting can be even more amazing. Even if it all goes south as far as weather, no meteors etc. you still had a great night NOT in front of the TV or doing things you always do.
2014 GEMINIDS INFORMATION:
ACTIVE DATES: Dec 7 – Dec 17, 2014.
PEAK VIEWING: Night of Dec 13 & morning of Dec 14.
HOURLY RATE: Approximately 20 per hour.
RADIANT POINT: Constellation Gemini.
MOON IMPACT = HIGH: Last Quarter 50% illuminated.
VELOCITY: 22 miles per second.
PARENT BODY: Asteroid 3200 Phaethon.
HEMISPHERE FAVORED: Northern Hemisphere.
Below is my typical meteor shower watch rambling and I will leave it because it’s important but the half moon gives this shower a twist. Because of the last quarter moon on the night and morning of peak, the moon will be setting around noon time on the 13th and will rise again just after midnight on the 14th. What’s that mean for us? The normal pre-sunrise best watching times will be washed out so this shower you will want to be out looking as soon as darkness falls because after the moon rises at midnight, many will be lost in its glare. Also, don’t wait for peak night, get out there a few nights before and a night or so after. Nothing like blowing opportunities waiting for maximum just to have that night cloud over.
Peak night is usually a given night and next morning with the “next morning” being the absolute best time to watch. In fact the closer to morning twilight you can get, the better…..here’s why. If you view the solar system from the “top” planets orbit the Sun in a counter clockwise motion and we also rotate in a counter clockwise motion. That means just before sunrise the Earth is pointed in the direction of travel of the Earth itself and meteors are mere “bugs (Or if you prefer; “snowflakes”) hitting the windshield” of Spaceship Earth.
David Kingham Photography: http://www.davidkinghamphotography.com/