This astro-lapse video was taken in the days (or nights, as it were) leading up to the height of the Perseid Meteor Shower in 2013 (8/7, 8/9, 8/11, 8/12). The first two nights were shot in Rocky Mountain National Park (Longs Peak Campground and Timber Creek Campground) in Colorado, and second two nights were shot in Vedauwoo in Wyoming. The sequences that start at 1:09 through the end of the video were shot in Vedauwoo, in the main campground. The earlier sequences were all shot in The Park.
Over the course of these four nights the two cameras caught around 130 meteors in their fields of view. Visually, I saw a couple each night except for the night of Aug 11/morning of Aug 12, in Vedauwoo, when I stayed up for about an hour after resetting the cameras at 1:30am and watched the sky blaze with meteors. I counted around 40 meteors in that hour of my just sitting there watching the sky. It was amazing. Some were brilliant and long (lasting upwards of 2 seconds), some were short and quick (lasting less than a second). And of those 40 meteors, 8 were super-brilliant and/or fireballs.
Due to the nature of time-lapse photography, specifically astro-lapse photography, with a playback rate of 24 frames per second (in other words, 24 images per second) meteors show up as extremely brief light streak flicks that last for an instant (1/24th of a second). The light streaks that go across the sky in the video are in most cases planes, but in other cases satellites. Meteors just don’t last that long. So, really, time-lapsing a meteor shower is anticlimactic in video form, but the still images captured can show some amazing light streaks. I opened this video with one of the fireballs one of my camera captured, and wrap with the video credits overlaid on four different stills from the time-lapse sequences with some of the better meteor captures.
As mentioned, about half of the streaks you’ll see are satellites or planes, especially if they cross the entire field of view. The rest are meteors. These are best identified by going through each and every still image one at a time (some examples in the photos section below). There are a couple captures of geosynchronous satellites in the sequences. The best example is at 0:49. As the Milky Way swings over to the right toward some trees, a ‘star’ will appear in the left third of the video, about 2/3 of the way up from the bottom. It will brighten then fade then brighten then fade – and will NOT move along with the rest of the stars! That’s a geosync satellite (and the brightest one of all the sequences that I captured them)
I hope you enjoy the video, the music, and the views of the night sky. :-)
Wordy EXIF Data: All sequences but the second in the video were shot ISO 3200 (the second sequence was accidentally shot ISO 800; I used Lightroom 3 to pull out the stars a bit, but the black clouds were black clouds – there was no light in the valley reflecting off of them!). All images were 25 seconds in duration, with a 5 second pause between shots (to allow the images to be written to the SD cards, and in the case of the eMotimo-mounted camera, allowed the pan-tilt system to nudge the camera facing slightly, meaning I was shooting 2 exposures per minute. In the end I had over 3000 images. Both cameras were Nikon D7000, one with a 14mm Rokinon lens set to f/2.8, the other with an 11-16mm Tokina lens set to 11mm and f/2.8.
The ‘hyper-lapse’ sequences (where the camera is moving) were done using an eMotimo TB3 pan/tilt system (emotimo.com/learn/about-emotimo-tb3/), the makers who I would like to thank for the help they gave me in the weeks prior to the trip in figuring out how I could shoot the camera w/out tying it directly to the eMotimo (since my D7000s have built-in intervalometers, and this thus saved battery power to be reserved to the TB3 exclusively).
Music: “Storm Gatherer Plus Choir” by Tony Flynn.