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frugal

Framing the Lyrids tonight

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Ok, so tonight is the peak of the Lyrids, there is little moon and there is finally a forecast for a few hours of clear sky. So I figured I would take the Astrotrac out to a darkish location and try to get some images (I figured AstroTrac rather than plain tripod as I will get less star trails). My weapon of choice will be my trusty Canon 60D (unmodified) and the lens will be a 28mm f1.8 (I could use the kit lens 18-135 F3.5 to get a bigger field of view, but a lot less light).

So my question is, how should I frame a metor shot to get a decent selection of trails over the night? I could put the Lyrids slap bang in the middle of the frame, but I am lead to believe that I will not see many meteors as they are not very visible close to the radiant. So would I be better off putting the Lyrids off to one side like this, where I am covering about 90 degrees around the radiant:

Framing2.thumb.png.0d86aaae026bbed989a7b98629b36a0b.png

Or putting the radiant completely out of view, and hoping that enough metors cross the frame to make something interesting, like this:

Framing3.thumb.png.8c3c87e5cec14c36523e8480e1c1a158.png

My concern with the latter approach is that I am only covering something like a 45 degree section of the sky around the radiant, and as there are only 18/hour expected, I am only going to get at most 2-3 in frame per hour, but hopefully they should be longer and brighter further away from the radiant.

Any advice from experienced meteor hunters? I have looked and looked online, but all of the tutorials essentially boil down to: "take your £5000 full frame camera and your £1000 10mm F1.2 lens out to somewhere darker than satan's armpit where you can cover the whole sky"

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You can guarantee that wherever you point the camera most meteors will carefully avoid it, I've used 2 cameras before and still failed to catch anything worthwhile.

Covering the whole sky is not a bad idea if you've got some sort of fisheye lens.

Dave

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2 minutes ago, Davey-T said:

You can guarantee that wherever you point the camera most meteors will carefully avoid it, I've used 2 cameras before and still failed to catch anything worthwhile.

Covering the whole sky is not a bad idea if you've got some sort of fisheye lens.

Dave

Unfortunately not. My choice of lenses are the kit 18-135 f3.5-5,  or the 28mm f1.8. As I am using a crop sensor the kit lens is more like 29-216mm and the 28mm lens is more like 45mm (perfect for framing a single constellation which is what I got it for). The one consistent piece of information in a lot of the tutorials is that anything slower than about f3 is unlikely to catch many meteors, which is the main reason I am going to use the 28mm.

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I used the 20mm 2.8 and 24mm/ 105 pointing in opposite directions capturing 30 secs on slow continuous and didn't catch a single decent Perseid and there are more of them.

Dave

 

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9 minutes ago, Davey-T said:

I used the 20mm 2.8 and 24mm/ 105 pointing in opposite directions capturing 30 secs on slow continuous and didn't catch a single decent Perseid and there are more of them.

You are not filling me with confidence here Dave... ;)

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Wish you all the luck and hope you catch a belter.

Dave

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It looks like all of the cloud that was supposed to be overhead all day has decided to wait until nightfall to arrive... grrrr... no clear spots predicted until 7am...

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Looks like the cloud might not be as bad as I thought. Astrotrac set up and taking 2 minute exposures. Changed the framing at the last minute. It is too early to put the radiant at the top right of the frame, the rest of the image would be down in the murk of the atmosphere. So I have gone for the radiant and Vega in the. Bottom left and the square of Hercules in the top right.

Herself already saw one meteor as I was setting up, but nothing on camera yet.

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Been working a night shift overnight and it's been clear all night. I've kept half an eye out for Lyrids but had no luck until dawn.

Just after 5am I was comparing Jupiter setting in the West and Venus rising in the SE when I spotted a very bright meteor heading down towards the western horizon. Loverly blue white colour, brighter than Jupiter.

The track was about right for a Lyrid so I'll claim one for the team! 

 

Edited by Paul M

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I saw at least 7 last night between 1-2:30am. I did manage to image two of them, will try to get the photos posted today. 

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17 hours ago, Davey-T said:

I used the 20mm 2.8 and 24mm/ 105 pointing in opposite directions capturing 30 secs on slow continuous and didn't catch a single decent Perseid and there are more of them.

Dave

 

I did something similar last year and can empathise with your lack of luck. Two hours of imaging and not a single Perseid caught! Saw plenty though and every time I moved my camera guess where the next one appeared!

WRT the Lyrids I even saw 4-5 mid Atlantic over about an hour n Monday night which was a bit of a surprise. That was with the advantage of beautiful seeing by at 39000ft however. 

Edited by Tangoringo

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I was imaging the Lyrids from 11pm to 3am when they went over the house (when the polar-scope batteries on the Astrotrac died, so my attempts at re-positioning the tripod failed). I saw a couple of short small meteors, but none of them made it to the images based on my quick look. I will go over them in more detail and hope for something faint. Lovely images of the star filled sky when I quickly stacked them in PixInsight, so it was not a complete loss.

It was dark enough to faintly see the milky way at about 3am as it rose through the murk of the atmosphere. I tried to polar align by eye without the polarscope and image Cygnus, but I was so far out that there was horrible field rotation.

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Alas, I did not manage to capture any meteors on camera, but the image did come out to be a fairly good wide field shot of the sky. MY field of view calculations must have been out, as I have got a lot more sky in the frame than I expected. I was anticipating only just getting Vega and the square of Hercules in frame, but I have managed a lot more to the right of Hercules as well. As I was shooting across town there were some horrible gradients that I could not get rid of even after spending about an hour with PixInsights back ground extraction tools. You can also just about make out Comet P41-Tuttle between Hercules and Draco.

Lyrids_crop.thumb.png.74dc97cc52390a64353cfde7dd65af42.png

Lyrids_annotated.thumb.jpg.69f90a929fe5fc1963c4b283e0e6f15b.jpg

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