An astrophotography photo competition – with no telescope needed!
You might have seen a meteor or “shooting star”, but have you seen a whole bunch of them in a short space of time? This is called a meteor shower. To photograph one all you need is a DSLR, a tripod and some clear and preferably dark skies. The darker the better. The perfect opportunity to try your hand at this is in just a few days.
The Geminids are considered one of the most spectacular meteor showers of the year, and very suitable for us folks in the Southern Hemisphere. There is the possibility of seeing up to 120 meteors per hour at its peak. It happens overnight between December 13 or 14 and this year should be a really good year as we have new moon on the 14th – the perfect combination for seeing and photographing meteors.
Geminids naturally are named after the constellation Gemini as they appear to come from within that constellation.
Geminids unlike most meteor showers, are associated with an asteroid instead of a comet. In this case it is asteroid 3200 Phaethon which has an orbital period of 1.4 years.
The best times to see the Geminids is between 11:30pm and 4am as the constellation of Gemini rises.
Gemini, in Greek mythology were the twins brothers, Kastor (Κάστωρ) and Polydeukes (Πολυδεύκης) (Castor and Pollux). The radiant, or central point, for the Geminids is near Castor (the lower of the twins in the southern hemisphere skies). Gemini follow Orion and just a little further in the north. If you’re not sure exactly where this is, there’s some great phone apps to show you the sky at night or ask us.
The simplest way to photograph the meteor storm is to put your DSLR on a tripod facing high into the North East sky. Set to B (manual) about f/8 and take as many 60 second images with the widest angle lens you have. You might even be able to capture them with a phone such as the Pixel 4/5 which has a night sky “astrophotography” mode.
With any luck you’ll have a ripper of an image like this one!
Bintel has a $100.00 voucher for the best image received, so send them in.
The winner will be announced on the Solstice.
Photo credit: CC-BY/Brian Tomlinson/Flickr