I spent the last two nights under the open skies of the wastelands of Hungary. The weather forecast was perfect for watching this year’s Perseid meteor shower.
Though I don’t consider myself an astrophotographer, I love capturing meteors as they blaze across the horizon. On previous skirmishes though, I haven’t been so lucky with the weather. This year, I tried my hand at shooting the stars strapped with a Canon 70D equipped with a 10-22 wide lens, a cheap tripod and a infrared remote control.
On my first night I set up camp among the ruins of a medieval castle on a small hill very close to village Nógrád, about an hour from Budapest. About an hour after dusk (21:58 to be precise) the International Space Station, much brighter than any star, made its way across the sky. On the left you can see a 30 second exposure of the ISS trail, on the right a shorter one, showing the station as it slowly fades away:
That first night I only only captured three Perseid meteors, even though I saw dozens. My camera was setup facing toward the tallest piece of the castle ruins, and unfortunately the longest, brightest meteor trails appeared outside its viewing field. This composite image shows all three meteors I managed to catch.
On my second night, I had better luck. I chose another location, a larger hill next to a village called Csővár. (The name translates roughly to Pipe Castle). Here another craggily ruin served as a nice scenery for my shots.
First of all ISS visited me again, this image below was created by merging two long exposure shots into one. I was a bit nervous at this time because of the clouds slowly crawling from North, so I changed the view of the camera to South.
Csővár is a very small village, you can see its lights on the bottom of the following photo with two other villages in the distance. Luckily the clouds started to roll out of the sky above my head, so I could witness and capture a quite long and bright meteor.
After stargazing for hours, I was surprised how many airplanes come and go across the sky. The following composite image shows the heavy late night airliner traffic. Can you spot the Perseid meteor among the blinking plane trails?
This little fellow visited me around midnight. We discussed the ultimate questions of life, the universe and everything, and now I am wiser than yesterday.
In the middle of the night the meteor shower seemed to stop. I got bored, and started to take stupid selfies.
Later I changed the position of the camera, but I only capturing satellites and airplanes before nodding off to sleep.
When I woke up at about four o’clock in the morning, not long before dawn, I started taking 30-second exposure shots again, and captured several Perseids (the image on the top of this post is a composite photo of them). The photo below is my favourite of the batch; it’s one of the brightest meteors I saw during these nights, a perfect closing chapter for my astrophoto adventures.
Photos: Attila Nagy/Gizmodo