Thursday, January 16, 2014

Meteor Shower from Comet ISON?

Meteor Shower from Comet ISON?*
Robert Lunsford of the  recently posted details on a possible meteor shower from Comet ISON passing near the earth's orbit on its way towards its rendezvous with the sun.  I had heard that the earth could reach the debris in the January 12 -15 time frame, so I went out early on 3 mornings to see what I could pick up.  I've condensed hundreds of photos from those nights into the HD video below.  

As illustrated in a diagram on Robert's post here, the incoming meteors were expected to appear to radiate out from a point in the constellation Leo:
Meteor Activity from Comet ISON?

Meteor trails look longer away form a meteor shower's radiant point though, so the first two nights I shot north to minimize star movement and northeast in case the movement of the earth through space caused extra collisions with comet dust to the east.  On the third night I trained my 24mm lens on Leo and I used a sky-tracking mount to follow the constellation while shooting almost continuously for hours.  I did capture a bright and colorful meteor trail:

Unfortunately its length and direction, along with a second meteor captured 10 minutes earlier, implies that its radiant point was across the sky near the Big Dipper, so those were more likely to be late arrivals from the Quadrantid meteor shower which peaked on January 3.

So did I catch any meteors from ISON?  I swear that I can see little flashes in my original images as they were getting down-converted in resolution to video, but it's hard to peer into 22 megapixel images to detect the smallest details on a 2 megapixel monitor.   Even my video gets compressed for re-broadcast from video hosting sites, so it's even harder to show others what I captured.  The question might not be definitively answered until I re-examine the results some time from now when I can re-process the images in "4K" video format and can view the 4X higher resolution video on a 4K monitor (4096 or 3840 resolution).

The increasing brightness of the moon and its later rise times started interfering with meteor viewing on the third night, so I decided not to shoot on the fourth night.  I've shot dozens of meteor showers in the past, but this time I was particularly focused on trying to capture the faintest of meteors, so it was good to "push the envelope" and develop new insight and techniques which can fine tune my meteor shower shooting in the future.

Here's another shot of that meteor, with room to see Leo just to the right:

To see more of my time-lapse videos from more major meteor showers, drop by my  channel:

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Comet Lovejoy C/2013 R1 1/4/2014 85mm 30fps 1080p HD Time-lapse Video

This video converts 762 individual photos shot at 85mm focal length into 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second. Each photo was cropped to approximately 3840 pixels on the longest side ("4K video"), then they were converted to HD video at 1920 x 1080 resolution (1/4 the original resolution).
This was shot before dawn on January 4, 2014 on a standard tripod (no tracking mount).  Most of the streaks passing through the frame occupy several photos (which have an average exposure time of 2.5 seconds each), so most appear to be satellites.  It was shot less than 24 hours after the peak of the Quadrantid meteor shower though, and Comet Lovejoy isn't all that far in the sky from the radiant point of that shower, so if I hunt through all of the 762 photos I might find a Quadrantid meteor or two.

This blog post is a test of sharing a 1080p HD video from Flickr to Blogger... click on "HD" and the full screen icon in the lower right corner to see it in the highest possible resolution!  It may need to play twice before the player gets it fully buffered for smooth playback.