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08-13-2012, 10:48 AM   #1
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Perseids (kinda), Astrophotography and the K-5

Hey guys and gals,

Last night my family and I wanted to make an attempt to see the Perseid Meteor Shower... which is, of course, a challenge on Long Island because of light pollution. I did a little research and found out that the local astronomy club meets down near one of our ocean beaches not to far from me, so we decided to take a chance and go down there.

I had NO IDEA that we could get such dark skies here and was pleasantly surprised to be able to see the milky way with the naked eye. I'll definitely be going again to try more photos, but it was exciting to take a shot at a bit of astrophotography last night.

Don't be too impressed with the "meteors". One is photoshop-fake and the other is an airplane... LOL! I did get some nice shots of the stars but could have used a wider lens (I'll have to buy one!). And try as I might, even though we *saw* some pretty impressive perseid meteors, I didn't catch any with the camera.

Both shots are with the K-5 at 6400 ISO, f/3.2 or 3.5 and 20 second exposures to avoid star trails. In case you're wondering how to figure out how to avoid them, it's 600 divided by the 35mm equivalent focal length. I used the DA 21mm f/3.2 limited lens, so 20 seconds was the max I could do. (21mm x 1.5 = 31.5mm... 600 31.5 = 19 seconds).





Thanks for looking!

08-13-2012, 11:32 AM   #2
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Well done, these are nice shots!
08-13-2012, 03:21 PM   #3
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Good shots!
08-13-2012, 05:47 PM   #4
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Got this one. it was an impressive two nights. On Saturday I had my A 50mm 1.4, but it was too narrow. Plus I had ran out and my tripod wasn't right, no light. I did 30 sec shots, oblong stars and any meteor ended up being very faint.

Sunday I had my 18-55 cheapo, remote, and a proper tripod setup. Did 15 sec shots at high ISO. Not as many meteors when I was out, but got this one.



08-13-2012, 08:51 PM   #5
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Awesome Derekkite!
08-13-2012, 08:56 PM   #6
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Very nice! I did interval long exposures with my K-5 for two nights straight for about 3 hours at a time in my back yard and didn't catch one on camera even though they were popping all around... Felt like a bad fishing trip but that's the way the cookie crumbles.. :-)
08-13-2012, 09:28 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by DRabbit Quote
SNIP ... a challenge on Long Island because of light pollution. I did a little research and found out that the local astronomy club meets down near one of our ocean beaches ... SNIP
Were those photos taken at Robert Moses? It gets very dark to the south and east. Jones Beach is more light polluted. Sunken Meadow is better for views to the north but not great because light pollution from a densely populated portion of CT reaches us.

For darker skies, there's Custer Institute and Observatory Custer Observatory on the North Fork. I volunteer there many Saturdays.

Note that Robert Moses and Sunken Meadow are officially closed after dark. Access is only by fishing or stargazing permits issue by the State Parks office and the police occasionally chase vehicles without permits away. I think their main concerns are kids drinking and people doing illegal off road driving over sensitive dunes.
08-13-2012, 09:42 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by derekkite Quote
Got this one. it was an impressive two nights. On Saturday I had my A 50mm 1.4, but it was too narrow. Plus I had ran out and my tripod wasn't right, no light. I did 30 sec shots, oblong stars and any meteor ended up being very faint.

Sunday I had my 18-55 cheapo, remote, and a proper tripod setup. Did 15 sec shots at high ISO. Not as many meteors when I was out, but got this one.
Did you spot the 2nd trail in that photo? Look at the lower right portion of the main streak, then move straight down below the main streak approx 10% of the photo height. There's a 2nd dim trail parallel to the first. If you have the RAW image play with the black level, contrast, etc. to try bringing out that 2nd trail.

It might be a 2nd meteor. Other possibilities are internal reflection (but I don't think the 18-55 is prone to that), satellite, plane.

08-14-2012, 06:17 AM   #9
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It probably was a second meteor. I didn't see it before you mentioned it. They did seem to happen in bunches, especially Sunday night.

Todd: bad luck.

DRabbit: great shots. Love the foreground.
08-14-2012, 10:46 AM   #10
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I also got out on Sunday evening, hoping to watch the shower and possibly catch a few in a photo. Drove 3 hours east of here toward Lake Tahoe to escape the light pollution of the bay and got up to about 6,000 Ft when a blanket of clouds just rolled in and blocked the sky. We waited there till 3:30am and caught a couple of small breaks in the sky, enough to see 20-30 meteor streaks and then get home as the sun was rising.

This is a radio tower bathed in blinking red light from the adjacent tower. There is a single streak in this sky, but nothing terribly exciting.

I used the O-GPS1 for a 2.5min exposure here, IIRC.

Spirit of Radio
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