There are not many other meteor showers that can deliver a good show more than the Perseid meteor showers in my own humble experience. I’ve seen the shower for many years, and the year 2013 was no different.
It was the 1st time I get the chance to view it at one of my favorite sites, Santa Susana pass. The site is not the darkest by any mean, however, it has its own romance.
I drove there after 2 am from where I live, the San Fernando Valley, California. I left my car at the empty parking lot while appreciating the solitude of the place. Most people who get up to view the event or spend the whole night awake with groups for it are in other much darker places than the one I went to.
A look up as I was ascending to my distention rocky peak revealed a rain of shooting stars. They were raining almost twice a minute from the moment I stepped out of my car. I wasn’t disappointed at all.
There were no noises from other nearby human observers as far as I know. I’m sure though the wild life was observing me carefully even at this hour. So I was careful not to step on any snake, frog, or a rabbit.
The Moon sets a couple of hours before midnight, a great condition for when the peak happen after 3 am in the morning until sunrise which is around 6 am at this time of the year, and location I was in.
Cassiopeia constellation was on the north east, and I can see clearly the Pleiades and Taurus on the rise. The peak of the event is near, and surprisingly, the night was dark enough to see a hint of the Milky Way galaxy band.
This year, I had another advantage, I had the SLR camera with me, and since there was no one around, I didn’t have to deal with an angry observer for ruining their night vision with the light coming from the LCD camera screen. So, with all those shooting stars falling down, I knew I will get lucky that night, and capture a meteor on camera.
It wasn’t easy. As if they had a brain of their own, the meteor shower was camera shy. They appeared exactly before taking the image, or right after the camera turn its shutter closed after a long exposure. It was frustrating, yet, I haven’t lost hope.
This didn’t make the experience any less enjoyable though. The shower was extremely strong, and I guessed it is even more beautiful in a darker site.
The shooting stars were falling constantly, it felt as if I was on the roof of a space ship and the meteors were hitting us and gliding across the transparent ceiling (the atmosphere) from its radiant center near the constellation Perseus in the east and converge to the west.
I got a faint one on camera, not a strong one, and for the untrained eye, the image of the meteor can be easily mistaken for an airplane light. I turned the camera toward the west, and I start taking some more, and suddenly, a very bright one light up the sky, while the camera shutter was open. After the brightness went away, I heard the shutter closing.
I did it!!! I finally I got one! I turned the camera off, no more pictures, I have to enjoy it now with my own eyes only, and when I saw the 1st light of dawn, I grabbed my camera and prepared to leave.
When I get back home, I right away posted the image in this site. The post can be viewed here.
It was a beautiful meteor shower. Later I read the world wide reports, and average number of shooting stars per hour wasn’t as strong as every year to my surprise. I got lucky then, because I saw about 2 meteors a minute, which average to 120 meteors an hour.
Santa Susana Pass, California
August – 12 – 2013