The Leonid meteor shower will peak this weekend with persistent lights streaking across the night sky.
For photographers, it provides an opportunity to capture dazzling photos with the Leonids peaking in the early hours of Saturday morning (around 00:33 Eastern Time). They will be visible in both the northern and southern hemispheres.
Photographers should train their lenses toward the east and pick a vantage spot that has a wide-open view of the sky.
The Leonids can produce around 15 shooting stars per hour under clear conditions so do check the weather forecast for cloud cover.
If you happen to miss tonight’s meteor show then do not worry, the Leonid meteors should still be going strong in the nights afterward.
Tips on Photographing the Leonid Meteor Shower
Firstly, a patch of dark sky is essential to meteors showing up on the camera. City lights and even the Moon can keep the meteoroids in darkness. But luckily the Moon is in its waxing crescent phase so it shouldn’t interfere with the show.
It is never certain where exactly a meteor will streak across the sky so for a photographer to catch them they must treat it more like a timelapse than a traditional still photo.
The best bet is the set the camera up on a wide-angle lens and leave the camera in the same position. A wired cable release is advisable so it can be locked down while the camera is in continuous drive mode.
Setting the exposure time to something like 15 to 25 seconds with the aperture wide open (f/2.8 for example) and pick the highest ISO that will give an acceptable amount of noise.
A sturdy tripod will be needed for the long exposures as even the slightest of moments can result in a blurred image.
Finally, it will be cold this evening and even though it is called a meteor shower, they can take a while to show up so wrap up appropriately and don’t forget to bring a headlamp.
Last Year’s Success
PetaPixel reported on a photographer in China who captured an incredible composite image of him and his wife enjoying last year’s Leonid meteor shower.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.