Meteor shower photo issue

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by michaelsacher, May 6, 2018.

  1. Hi everyone. I am new to this forum and new to digital photography. I tried taking some pictures of the Eta Aquarids meteor shower last night (first attempt at meteors). Worked OK. But something odd was happening. I set up interval shooting for about 90 minutes. Equipment and settings were as follows:
    Nikon D5300, lens - AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G, shutter speed of 10 seconds, ISO 640. Also tried shutter speed of 4 seconds and ISO of 3200. In both cases, when I review the individual frames in rapid succession, I see a meteor shoot by. But on each individual frame I see a series of repeating "dots" of 2 white, 1 red, for a number of cycles.
    I want to be prepared for the next meteor shower in August. What caused this and how can I avoid it? I should add that I did capture fainter meteors that, on individual frames, looked like a streak as I expected they would. See photo DSC_0186 as a "good" (better?) example and the other two show the repeating dots in question (atatched). It seems it may have something to do with the meteor intensity? Does that make sense?
    Thanks for the feedback!

    View attachment DSC_0020.JPG

    View attachment DSC_0343.JPG

    View attachment DSC_0186.JPG
  2. Just to add here: upon further reflection, I thought the odd "meteors" could be an airplane with strobe lights flashing. Possible? In that case, I have a series of individual frames where the surroundings lit up in one frame but not the others. Why would that happen with an airplane? The three sequential frames are attached. Notice how 342 is brighter than the others.

    View attachment DSC_0341.JPG

    View attachment DSC_0342.JPG

    View attachment DSC_0343.JPG
  3. paul ron

    paul ron NYC


    Thats an airplane for sure. Its pretty cool though.I wonder if airplanes have signature light patterns, like bouys?

    Look up the international space station pass over for your area. maybe include that in your pics as well?

    ISS observation
    Last edited: May 6, 2018
    Andrew Garrard likes this.
  4. Air traffic of some sort, definitely. You don't get 3 parallel meteors with strobe lights attached!

    Good first attempt though.
    Andrew Garrard likes this.
  5. Yes - a meteor is usually visible for less than a second, normally quickly getting brighter and darker again. Hence a longer exposure just makes them look fainter. If it takes longer to fade but isn't blinking (and still has a brightening/darkening pattern), it might be a satellite hitting the sun.

    It sounds like the fainter ones were actual meteors - they're usually reasonably bright (at least, as bright as a star - you probably won't see them unless it's properly dark) but because they're moving and the background is stationary (except for the rotation of the earth) the light gets spread into a line by the exposure, so they look faint.

    Good luck next time!
  6. Correction: Faint "satellite" down low in 342
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
  7. The streak in 186 is a satellite.
  8. Thanks. How do you tell meteor from satellite? And what about upper right on 342, through the tree? Meteor or satellite (and why)?
  9. I take that back. Down low in 342 is a satellite. Meteor streaks are tapered in brightness...often fainter at one or both ends. Satellite streaks are usually uniform in brightness unless they pass into the earth's shadow, which could cause a fade in brightness.

    My meteor photography tips page: (not so mobile friendly)

    Meteor Photography Tips - Perseid Meteor Showers Astrophotography

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