Quadrantid Meteor Shower Kicks off the New Year with Impressive Display!

Happy New Year everyone! The first Meteor Shower of the New Year, the Quadrantids, put on an incredible display during the wee hours of the morning on January 4th. Despite the below freezing temperatures I layered up and headed out to watch, and hopefully photograph the meteor shower, which was predicted to peak around 2:20am EST with an estimated 60-100 meteors per hour.  

Earlier that evening I was listening for meteor echoes on Space Weather Radio (www.spaceweatherradio.com). The site has a live audio feed that is connected to the Air Force Space Surveillance Radar, each time a meteor or satellite passes over the facility an echo, or ping, can be heard. Very cool site and worth checking out if you’d rather enjoy a meteor shower from the comfort of your own home. 

Around 1:30am EST the pings were becoming more and more frequent so I decided to head out. The location I chose to watch the meteor shower from was a nearby section of the Hudson River known as “Snake Rock” to the locals, a popular swimming hole in the summer. I knew the spot would provide a clear view of the northeastern sky where many of the Quadrantids would appear to radiate from.

After settling on a composition I just sat on the rocks and gazed up at the night sky in awe. At times the sky seemed to be raining stars. The sky put on such a display I stayed and watched it for four hours. I counted nearly 60 meteors during that time, including this one shooting through the milky way galaxy. I am confident that number would have been much higher but I was to busy searching for different compositions and making exposures to watch the sky the entire time.

Quadrantid Meteor streaking through the night sky over the Hudson River

This photograph is a blend of five exposures to overcome various technical limitations of the camera and lens; three for DOF (Depth Of Field) @ f/2.8, one for the sky with the meteor, and one for the water and distant landscape. All 5 images were taken from a tripod in the same exact spot. The first image that I made was a 74 sec. exposure @ ISO 800 for the water and distant mountains. The sky shot with the meteor was taken using a 25 sec. exposure @ ISO 1250.

Considering the vast amount of meteors shooting through the sky they seemed to be avoiding the area where my camera was pointed. After a considerable amount of time (and patience) I finally got a bright meteor to shoot through the frame about an hour and a half before dawn. Once I had an acceptable meteor I took the three remaining exposures for DOF, all shot at 30 Sec. @ ISO 1250. I would have used a lower ISO and longer exposure here but my cable release froze up and stopped working.

Such a wonderful night to be out under the stars, and one I definitely won’t forget anytime soon. What a great way to kick off the New Year!

Prints of this image can be purchased through my website here: http://www.adirondackzack.com/Galleries/New-Work/New-Work-Adirondacks/14362035_nqdd95#!i=1660234604&k=ZRW9KMk


The Heavens Above

The Heavens Above
This image of the milky way galaxy over the mountains beyond Garnet Lake in the Adirondacks took a lot of planning and preparation to get it right. The final image involved 3 horizontally stiched images…sounds easy right? Well it would have been except for the fact that I shot each image at a very high ISO and stitching those together would have left me with a noisy, useless image, no good for printing large. I decided to try something I had never done before. I took 20 exposures each of the 3 base exposures, for a total of 60 exposures altogether. I then imported each ‘set’ of exposures into Deep Sky Stacker, a program used in astrophotography, and stacked them together to create one noise free image from each of the 3 sets.

The image set with the landscape had to be stacked twice, once for the sky, and once for the landscape. The reason for this is simple. The stars ‘move’ as the earth rotates, but the landscape remains stationary. Once I corrected the blurry landscape, in this case the mountains, I was ready to stitch together the 3 images generated from Deep Sky Stacker. I used Microsoft ICE for the final stitch. The final result is a 23MP high resolution, noise free, fine art print!