Curious about how the Geminid meteor shower was going, I stepped outdoors at around 10:00 last night. In the five to 10 minutes I stood in the cold air, I spotted three bright meteors and that’s under our light-polluted suburban skies! Reports were coming in from other areas of North America remarking on the quality of this year’s crop of meteors. And so, despite my fatigue, I set out with camera and tripod for points farther away from city lights. A dark parking spot along a road in Hinckley looked mighty good: there was no ambient light and I was south of a layer of thin, city-lit clouds. Not long after I’d set up, a car drove up, its lights bothering me. The car pulled into a nearby parking spot and the driver started a conversation. I thought it might be a policeman about to tell me to move along or a not-so-nice person out to pester me or worse! Turns out it was another would-be meteor watcher/photographer seeking darkness and a bit of reassuring companionship. This was good. So there we stood, out in the cold, quiet darkness comparing notes and experiences, snapping shutters, spotting a meteor here and another there. Now and again a sound was heard coming from the woods — deer? Occasionally commotion came from the direction of the lake — ducks and geese. Not creepy if you aren’t alone. Photographic efforts continued. Thing is, if your camera doesn’t happen to be aimed at the spot where a meteor zips by, you’re not going to get a picture of it … no matter how bright it was. I saw a Geminid cover half the sky, in the portion of the sky opposite where my camera was aimed. My companion and I suffered the same frustrations … aimed at the wrong space of sky at the wrong time to record bright streaks. So after maybe an hour, with cold feet and 117 photo exposures done, I said goodnight and we headed in our separate directions. I had seen more “falling stars” than I’ve seen in a good long time. Although I got no meteor images it was a beautiful night. From the southern horizon, up, was the brilliant star Sirius, then the grand constellation Orion, and up from there was planet Jupiter floating just above the Hyades star cluster. Above them all (though not in the photo I am displaying here) was the lovely Pleiades star cluster. Those pesky thin clouds, illuminated by street lights, formed patterns in the sky even where they did not completely cover it. That was my little midnight meteor-chasing adventure.
Midnight meteor-chasing adventure