Friday night, December 11th 2009 was amazing. There were zero clouds, no moon and lots of meteors and other weird stuff in the sky. You couldn’t have asked for a better night and it will probably be the best of the year as far as viewing conditions and activity go. I had been looking forward to this new moon week since the beginning of the month. Unfortunately based on weather reports it looked like Friday would be the only clear night for the Geminid meteor shower so I planned to put in a full evening.
Earlier in the week I bought a new camera (so I can run two at the same time), a new f/1.6 camera lens and a few new accessories. The plan is to have one camera on the scope photographing DSOs (deep space objects), while the other camera is setup on the tripod trying to get meteors. Everything worked out perfectly, except for a few technical problems that resulted in some bad images. On the scope, I had left my camera ISO on 400, I ended up shooting from 6 PM till 4:30 AM in a low ISO so all of my pics came out pretty dark (darn).
On the tripod, I caught several meteors, but I was still working things out with the new camera and lens and my pics were slightly out of focus (darn again). I always chalk up mistakes like this as good learning experiences, but I’m a little disappointed today after reviewing the pics because they could have been a lot better and I squandered the best viewing night I will have in a few months. Mistakes aside, I shot continuously for 8-10 hours (about 800 pictures) and was able to catch at least 6 meteors, 2 very strange moving objects (maybe satellite flares) and one really weird variable star. I’ll post updates later about the satellite flares and variable stars after I’ve had a chance to research them some. For now here are the best meteor pictures of the night.
Here’s the full picture for the zoom image at the top of this post:
Here’s a long faint one that stretches across Orion. I tagged the meteor so you can see it easily.
Here’s a zoom of a short small one,
and the full picture the zoom came from. Note the difference between the way plane trails and meteors look.
Here’s a zoom crop of a sporadic one I think, interesting alignment with the constellation Orion. It should have been going left to right to be considered a Geminid I believe.
and the full picture of that one.
Here’s another one I found from Thursday night’s session. It is pretty faint, but smack in the middle of the shot.
I wish I had one more night with this meteor shower, so I could fix some of the tech glitches that impaired these pics, but the mostly cloudy clouds have already rolled in for tonight and its supposed to rain tomorrow. Oh well, there’s always next year.