Behind This Once-In-a-Lifetime Photo of a Meteor Streaking by Andromeda

Perseid comet streaking across the night sky with Andromeda galaxy in the background.
© Jose Pedrero

Spanish photographer Jose Pedrero captured a brilliant night sky image last August that demonstrates the magic that can happen when experience, preparation, and serendipity combine in the field.

While the image in question was captured in the early morning hours of August 12, 2023, it recently landed on PetaPixel‘s radar, so we reached out to Pedrero to ask him about the photo.

A Magical August Night

“On August 12, 2023, my wife, a colleague, and I ventured to Las Corbeteras de Pajaroncillo, in the province of Cuenca, Spain,” Pedrero tells PetaPixel over email. “This place is home to amazing rock formations, shaped over time by the vagaries of the weather, giving rise to a series of unique landscapes.”

The photographers went on their nighttime adventure to capture images of the annual Perseids meteor shower.

Multiple Perseid meteors against the night sky with a rock formation in the foreground
© Jose Pedrero

“Upon arriving at the site around 6 PM, we started looking for the perfect framing for one of my cameras, pointing it towards the constellation of Perseus so that I could capture as many meteors as possible while shooting continuously. In the meantime, I took the opportunity to use my second camera to capture other night views, including the Milky Way,” Pedrero explains.

At around 1:45 AM, he set up his Benro Polaris Star Tracker to photograph the Andromeda Galaxy.

“At 2:24 AM, something magical happened,” Pedro says. “A powerful Perseid crossed the sky right in front of Andromeda.”

Pedrero explains that he used a Canon EOS R camera with an 85mm lens at f/2. His ISO was 800 and his white balance was set manually to 3,900K. Thanks to his star tracker, the photographer can capture lengthy exposures at long focal lengths, as the tracker intelligently follows a target at the rate of the Earth’s rotation.

He captured many frames at 40 seconds each, and in one of the frames, the meteor shot through the frame, leaving a brilliant green trail in its way.

Perdero’s fantastic image was also featured on NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) on August 23, 2023.

He’s also shot other meteor showers, like the recent Geminids meteor shower in December.

More from Jose Pedrero

More of Jose Pedrero’s night sky photography is available on Instagram, and the photographer and his team shoot excellent portraits and wedding images.

Image credits: All images © Jose Pedrero