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Current Events

Seven Years of Meteor Showers in One Stunning Time-Lapse

By Hanssie on May 23rd 2014

Photo Credit: Matthew Saville

Photo Credit: Matthew Saville

Tonight, in parts of the Northern Hemisphere, a meteor shower is expected to make a spectacular appearance. Coming from the constellation Camelopardalis, as many as 100 to 400 meteors per hour may be seen from the comet 209P/LINEAR. The Earth will enter the debris of this comet sometime late tonight/early tomorrow morning (between 2am to 4am). Scientists aren’t quite sure what we can expect from this meteor shower, but it could be one of the most spectacular light shows we’ve seen this century (or it could be a flop).

Photographer Thomas O’Brien has released this stunning time-lapse of several meteor showers including the Perseid, Geminid and Leonid showers shot over a seven year period. Thomas has put together some tips on photographing meteor showers over on the Muench Workshops site in case you are one of the ones who will be staying up late to photograph tonight’s show. Here’s a map (courtesy of USA Today) of the meteor viewing conditions around the country.


So, my fellow insomniacs, astrophotographers, and science geeks, enjoy Thomas O’Brien’s video, Meteor, below for some inspiration and don’t forget to check out our very own astrophotographers Justin Ng and Matthew Saville for some of their articles on shooting the night sky.

NASA will be hosting a live UStream view and web chat from 11pm to 3am EDT in case you’re not in an area where you’ll be able to see the show. And if you get some great shots of tonight’s meteor showers, please share them with us! (I’m too much of a wimp and will likely be sleeping in my warm bed when the show starts).

[via Laughing Squid, Vimeo]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Chris

    Those looked a lot more like airplanes than meteors to me. It was a beautiful time-lapse, but there’s a pretty good chance those were not meteors. Even if they were there, it would only be one frame in the time-lapse. The star circle academy has a good article about how to tell if you have a meteor in your photo (and also how to take meteor photos).

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    • Matthew Saville

      Yep, I noticed this too Chris. I briefly mention satellites / airplanes in some of my own timelapse / meteor shower tutorials, but not enough.

      I always try to determine for sure what something is before including it in my astro-landscape photography; for example in the title image that Hanssie used in this image, I had TONS of other sky streaks during that ~90 min timelapse that captured the Perseid Meteor Shower on the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8, but I chose not to include them.

      Often times Irridium Satellite flares will also happen in an image, however they can often be noted by their tendency to take longer than a single exposure to show up. IE, if you have half of a “streak” in one 30 sec. image and the other half in the next 30 sec. exposure, there’s no way that’s a meteor, because meteors are so fleeting they’ll only ever show up in one frame. (Aside from, of course, the after-effect cloud that is sometimes left by real big fireballs!)


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