• Orionid Nebula
  • Leonid Meteor

Below the Belt [5_020853]

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Out of 1600 photos... one appears to contain a Leonid. Whew!

This shot was desperation. After pointing my camera toward the East where San Jose, California is for about 3 hours, I gave up. The sky glow was just too strong and I wasn't seeing much activity prior to Leo rising. I repointed to the west where the sky was darker. From the beginning of my vigil until the end I saw 2 Taurids (both bright) and two Leonids. That was after about an hour and a half of watching. Of course none of those meteors was in the field of view!

After I turned the camera southwest in the general vicinity of Orion I went in for sleep setting the alarm to come back out around 5 am. I didn't do that!

I'm assuming that it traveled left to right which consulting the sky charts this reddish meteor streak appears to be coming directly from the Leonid radiant point as it passes through the constellation Orion (also called the Hunter). Even more interesting, the meteor is passing below Orion's belt and very close to the Orionid Nebula - the fuzzy patch two points of light down from the middle of the streak.

I've provided this for you in full size. It has been cropped to 8x10 format and contrast enhanced. Also, I used a custom white balance determined at the beginning of the shoot.

I employed a shooting strategem learned from stargazer95050. Specifically, these were shot at ISO 1600, f/5.6 for 10 seconds. The focal length was 23mm on a 1.6 crop factor Canon 50D camera.

I power my rig with a jump start battery. It ran for more than 6 hours, though not always shooting. I set the camera to capture in RAW2 format (1/4 of full size) and filled an 8Gb, and two 4Gb cards.

At the right edge you can make out an oleander bush in my back yard.

© Copright 2009, Steven Christenson
All rights reserved.

Stephen Little and ksudheer1994 added this photo to their favorites.

  1. Muchilu 54 months ago | reply

    wow!!! congratulations!!!

  2. Groggy Garbad 54 months ago | reply

    Great picture!

    BTW, you captured that meteor crossing *exactly* the area of the sky I'm using as a background image right here on my Mac desktop.

  3. satosphere 54 months ago | reply

    Thats quite an achievement. I saw a whole lot of meteors at Russian ridge, but far too difficult to shoot. You had to be really really lucky to get one of those.

    Hmm - jump start battery rigging eh? Thats one thing I have never thought off - should give you plenty of juice for lots of shooting.

    Have you thought about converting all the images it to a timelapse sequence at 16fps? Windows movie maker/Quicktime both allow you to do that. It would look amazing.

  4. Steven Christenson 54 months ago | reply

    Satish: I've done similar conversions before, but this sequence is quite dark and contains only this one meteor.

  5. 2lazy7 54 months ago | reply

    Congrats on catching one. I didn't even attempt it here as we were in single digit (maybe negative even as it hit -4 the morning prior) temps - too cold!

  6. DB-Photography 54 months ago | reply

    Boy, I'm glad I didn't give it a go too. I hate it when you spend hours in the cold and get next to zip for your efforts. I've had a few lunar eclipses like that.

  7. Stargazer95050 [now @ ipernity] 54 months ago | reply

    Thanks for the credits ....

    And in the end your perseverance (and luck) paid off

  8. Steven Christenson 54 months ago | reply

    Thanks Andy. I added "perseverance" and "luck" to the tags. Mostly the LUCK!

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