how to... im­age the gem­i­nids

With no Moon to spoil things, this 2018's me­teor shower could be one of the best in years. Here’s how to see and im­age it…

All About Space - - Contents -

Cap­ture the majesty of a me­teor shower on cam­era

Ev­ery mid-De­cem­ber sky-watch­ers put aside their Christ­mas wrap­ping pa­per and head out into the coun­try­side to watch shoot­ing stars zip across the sky dur­ing the an­nual Gem­i­nid me­teor shower. It’s one of the year’s most re­li­able me­teor show­ers, and this year there’ll be no bright Moon to spoil things so we should be in for a real treat.

This year’s shower peaks on the night of 13 De­cem­ber, but you’ll see more me­te­ors than usual for a few nights ei­ther side of that date.

De­cem­ber nights can be very cold, so wear lots of lay­ers and make sure you put on ther­mal socks, thick gloves and a hat too. Take a flask of a hot drink with you to warm you up when you start to feel re­ally chilly. Tak­ing snacks for when you need an en­ergy boost is a good idea too.

Choos­ing a good ob­serv­ing site is ab­so­lutely vi­tal. Find some­where with as lit­tle light pol­lu­tion and pass­ing traf­fic as pos­si­ble. There should also be no trees, build­ings or hills to ob­struct your view of the sky ei­ther. If you can find some­where that re­minds you of be­ing in a planetarium, that’s ideal.

Be at your site from 10pm and set up your cam­era on its sturdy tri­pod. Set the ISO to 800. Use a wide-an­gle lens, or a stan­dard 50mm lens, but not a zoom or tele­photo lens; you want your cam­era to cap­ture as much of the sky as pos­si­ble. Open the lens as wide as pos­si­ble, and fo­cus on a bright star or light on the hori­zon. Don’t point your cam­era di­rectly to­wards the ra­di­ant in Gem­ini. If you aim at Orion, Auriga or Ursa Ma­jor you’ll have a chance of cap­tur­ing a me­teor with a long trail cut­ting through a fa­mil­iar star pat­tern.

Us­ing a cable re­lease to re­duce vi­bra­tions, take a test ex­po­sure of 30 sec­onds. Don’t worry that the stars have trailed; the im­por­tant thing is cap­tur­ing a me­teor! If ev­ery­thing is in fo­cus and ex­posed cor­rectly then be­gin tak­ing more pho­tos. Your cam­era will prob­a­bly let you take ten at a time, but be pre­pared to fail to­tally: the chances of a me­teor flash­ing across the sky ex­actly where your cam­era is point­ing are very slim!

Of­ten you’ll see a bright shoot­ing star zip across a dif­fer­ent part of the sky to the one you’re aimed at. It’s then very tempt­ing to change your tar­get area, but try to be pa­tient; ev­ery time you move your cam­era you risk los­ing sharp fo­cus, though you should check fo­cus reg­u­larly.

If you think you’ve caught a me­teor stay pa­tient - in­stead of fum­bling to check with your gloved hands, check at home when you’ve thawed out.

“It’s one of the year’s most re­li­able me­teor show­ers”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.