How to Photograph Meteor Showers

If you’ve ever stood under the night sky, you may have been lucky enough to see a shooting star. Shooting stars, or meteors, result when particles from asteroids or comets enter the atmosphere at high speeds. The heat this causes vaporizes the particles and creates the flashes of light we see across the sky. Meteor showers, then, occur when the Earth crosses paths with a trail of particles, and more “falling stars” are visible.

The chance to view a meteor shower can be rare, but always beautiful. But how do you make sure those memories last? Obviously, by taking pictures! While it can be slightly more difficult to take photos of quick-moving meteors with your phone, it’s certainly not impossible. If you’re looking to embrace your inner shutterbug during the next meteor shower, read on to learn how to photograph meteor showers.

Best places to view a meteor shower

Unfortunately, most major cities are not ideal spots to view meteor showers, as urban areas often come with light pollution. On the plus side, that’s a great excuse to venture into the unknown a little! Many national parks, especially the more remote ones (such as Joshua Tree National Park in California, which sits far enough from California’s big cities to boast clear night sky views) offer amazing views– day or night.

Most meteor action will be visible between midnight and dawn, so bring some caffeine with you and pull an all-nighter! Get comfy, and make sure to get to your viewing spot of choice early. It’s recommended to arrive an hour before you think you’ll spot the best meteors, as your eyes can take some time to fully adjust to the dark.

Quadrantids Meteor Shower

  • January 3-4th
  • An above-average shower, the Quadrantids Meteor Shower usually contains up to 40 meteors per hour at its peak.
  • The best viewing will be after midnight.

Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower

  • May 6-7th
  • Another above-average shower, the Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower is capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour.
  • The best viewing will be after midnight.

Perseids Meteor Shower

  • August 12-13th
  • The Perseids Meteor Shower is often considered one of the best meteor showers to view, and can produce up to 60 meteors per hour.
  • The best viewing will be after midnight.

Geminids Meteor Shower

  • December 13-14th
  • Occasionally referred to as “the king of the meteor showers,” this one is not to be missed
  • At its peak, the Geminids Meteor Shower can produce up to 120 multicoloured meteors per hour.
  • As always, the best viewing will be after midnight.

Photography tips for meteor showers

The first rule of photographing a meteor shower is: stay still! When you’re working with long-exposure photography, as you likely will when photographing a meteor shower, any little movement could be the difference between picture-perfect and picture-ruined. If that sounds like too much pressure, try purchasing an tripod to remove the chance of error.

Another long-exposure tip: use your timer feature to start shooting. Because even the smallest movement can blur the shot, using the timer means you won’t have to press a button in order to start shooting, lowering the risk of movement.

Make sure your vantage point is clear and unobstructed, and get ready to wait. While scientists can guess when meteor showers are going to be at their most clear, there are always variables that could mean less visibility, or even none at all. Camp out with friends, give everyone a region to watch, and make a game of it!

The first meteor shower was recorded on November 12, 1799; but of course, people have been fascinated by them long before and long after! The next time you hear about a shower’s visibility, getting out there to watch it will always be a good idea. Equipped with only a sense of patience and your trusty, you can take meteor shower photos that will be the envy.

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