Perseids 2020

Sep 7, 2013
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478
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Strasburg, CO
Just a heads up, peak is the evening of August 11 into pre-dawn hours of Aug 12. Im considering a campout way out in the Eastern Plains of CO, pending weather of course.

2nd quarter moon so it won't be ideal conditions, but Perseids can usually overwhelm ambient light.

Good luck viewers!!
 

James K

EF3
Mar 26, 2019
299
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Colorado
Thanks for the heads-up, I just went & google'd that for more info.
They say best time is after midnight til before dawn...and looking northeast.

Sadly, I'm not even going to bother trying. After midnight is just a bit too late for me (could go out 11pm for a short while), but even moreso than that is looking northeast......

There's a chance I may go camping the following weekend (in Park County CO) so maybe I'll see something then? even though its past the peak show.
 
Sep 7, 2013
649
478
21
Strasburg, CO
Hey James...you will likely see something. Up in the dark mountains any given day you can see a shooter. I want to go up but i dont want to bother if i cant have a fire.

If you can get out on the 11th before bed try to hang out for an hour. 20 minutes to let your eyes adjust and 40 mins of seeing meteors that always pass just outside of your camera view. :)
 
I've only had two opportunities in the past to have a good photo-session with Perseids. Both times I was out around midnight-2am during the peak nights. The first time I faced south to combat light pollution to my north and northeast, and that was the most meteors I've seen in a night. The second time, I was able to face northeast without light pollution, but I think I managed to pick up one, maybe two meteors. I imagine if it's a "productive" enough night, it may not matter where you face.

My wife and I managed to see three meteors last night in the 9-10pm CDT hour while sitting on our porch facing west in the middle of a densely populated area. Two of them I would classify easily as "fire balls", so those are going to stand out more regardless of where you're at.

Bottom line - if you're able to get out at any time of night during this stretch, go for it.
 

James K

EF3
Mar 26, 2019
299
114
6
Colorado
@Marc R. O'Leary:
Yep..no campfires with all the fire-bans up there. Would have been nice to see monsoon season atleast somewhat alleviate the drought conditions (but I dont think that happened? this season so far seems kinda minimal - atleast here just east of the mountains.)

I did see a couple (while looking for the comet) when I was up there camping last month. I plan to watch for some If camping happens (and its clear) that weekend. I pretty much expect I'll see a few :)

I hadn't planned to bother trying from home on the 11th, figuring that I wouldn't see anything - the light pollution where I'm at is so bad to the point where you see no stars looking north or northeast. But reading what @Alex Elmore says, maybe the brighter ones will still out-shine it? I might have to re-consider 'simply forget trying'...

Maybe if there's no clouds I'll go sit on the roof(have to get above the trees to see anything! The deck would be more comfortable.) for 30-45 minutes..or as you say maybe a hour. If there's clouds, they better be producing me a lightning-show LOL (in which case I'd setup the videocamera..I don't think it'd pick up anything small like meteors though)
 

Jeff Duda

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Oct 7, 2008
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I have watched the Persieds quite regularly over the years. In my experience, it is a pretty forgiving show in the sense that you can see meteors almost anywhere in the sky pretty much all night long. The radiant may be towards the northeast early on and rotate overhead during the overnight, but again, I have seen meteors in pretty much all quadrants of the sky during the show.

I plan on driving to the Berthoud Pass area along US 40 in Colorado late in the night for an hour or two of viewing. Once it is late enough, the elevated terrain nearby shouldn't block many meteors from sight. Guanella Pass is another great viewing place for those who live in the Denver area.
 

Mark Egan

EF0
Jul 13, 2017
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Frisco
I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but average cloud cover over the Rockies and SW increases in August due to the monsoon flow:

https://eclipsophile.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Aug-Aqua-PM-globe.png (courtesy Jay Anderson)

Statistically, eastern CO may be a better choice. However, if the sky is clear over the mountains, the viewing can be quite good

I did have a nice experience in 2007 watching from the ghost town of Winfield, CO (See pic- I got one to the lower right of the bright star in the upper center)

I’d estimate that the moon (once it’s more than about 15 degrees up) is going to subtract about 30% of the meteors
 

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Jeremy Perez

Supporter
Early test run last night with the camera firing away outside the front door. It picked up 5 Perseids between 9:50PM-12:30AM local time, with 4 of them showing up after moonrise. A few bright sporadics in there too. Perseids captured are the ones running roughly left to right in the frame. As Jeff mentioned, it isn't critical to view or photograph in the direction of the radiant. They can appear in any part of the sky and will just trace back their origin toward Perseus. Moonlit results last night were reassuring for catching decent ones even during the early morning with the third quarter moon. Hope you guys get clear skies. Looks like our disrupted monsoon will give us a good chance at that Tuesday night.

img20200809-IMG_5594-Edit-2_1280px.jpg

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Image is composed of 18 shots—10 stacked for the star field + 8 images with meteors rotated & masked to correct positions in the star field to visualize radiants. 9-10 August 2020 0452-0731 GMT Canon 6D Mark II Tokina AT-X 16-28 F/2.8 Pro FX lens 16mm, f/2.8, 6.0 sec., ISO 6400
 

James K

EF3
Mar 26, 2019
299
114
6
Colorado
Cool pictures!
I'm assuming 'stacking' images is some sorta Photoshop trick?

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I'm pretty much planning to to sit out for awhile tomorrow night (depending ofcourse on how clear "partly cloudy" ends up being .. and how much wildfire smoke). Facing northeast, but looking more up than out. Should have a reasonable view that way. Talked to my brother last weekend & we are tentatively going camping this coming weekend (depends on how busy he is..they're nearing the end of a phase to a project at his work, so may mean he's working extra hours & can't go)
 

Jeremy Perez

Supporter
Hoping you catch a few while you're out!

Processing varies a lot depending on each person's workflow. In my situation, I like to shoot with short exposures to keep meteors as bright as possible vs. background sky. Which leads to a lot of noise in individual images. Stacking 10-20 of them using something like Starry Landscape Stacker or Sequator helps average out the noise and leave smoother signal for a cleaner image. After that, if I want to include all the meteors captured during the night into a single shot, then I'll use Photoshop to add them into the original stacked image and rotate/scale each of those images to align it the base star field so the meteor shows up where it occurred in the star field. That part is really tedious and not always worth doing.
 

James K

EF3
Mar 26, 2019
299
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Colorado
@Jeremy Perez:
Thanks. I might download Sequator just to have since its free
I don't think any of my cameras would do any good at all (very basic stuff, can't do long exposures or anything like that.)...but if I go camping, I'm tempted to set up the tripod, point at the milky way & click off multiple shots, simply to see what happens.

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I went out tonight for 30-40 minutes a bit after 11pm...there was just a little bit of cloud around, so not bad there...but a fair amount of haze/wildfire smoke.
I saw a grand total of one meteor .lol. (mighta caught a 2nd out of the corner of my eye, but not sure)
One thing I noticed was a single bright red-ish colored star to the east (infact the only star looking east) Anyone know what that might be? Mars? (or maybe only red tinted because of the wildfire smoke)
I can also say as a general thing...it just wasn't that dark out.
 
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Jeff Duda

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Not the best Perseid viewing experience for me on Berthoud Pass along U.S. 40 west of Denver last night. Smoke from the fires near Grand Junction made it smell like a massive campfire/barbecue up there. While that caused a noticeable haze, it did not seriously block the sky overall. Instead, overnight partial cloudiness ruined the experience. Overnight clouds under a mid-summer ridge with such dry air in place seemed pretty unusual.

In spite of that, I saw at least a dozen meteors in less than an hour. Three or four were large, and one was arguably a fireball that persisted for 2 seconds and was an orangish/white color, although it appeared to emanate from the Perseus radiant.

The most common sectors I saw meteors in were east and northwest...a little above the big dipper.
 

Jeff Duda

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One thing I noticed was a single bright red-ish colored star to the east (infact the only star looking east) Anyone know what that might be? Mars? (or maybe only red tinted because of the wildfire smoke)
It is Mars. It was quite visible from Berthoud Pass. What looked weird was the clouds occasionally blocking it out - the attenuation was so gradual it looked more like a satellite that was fading in and out of view.
 
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Jeremy Perez

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Agree on that being Mars. Really cool to have Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus running a long, bright train of planets across the sky all night.

Monsoon moisture stayed clear of northern Arizona last night so viewing was great and the moon didn't interfere badly. High altitude helped I think, and the shower was ramping up same time as the moon was getting higher so I think that also helped balance things out. 138 Perseids counted by eye from 12-5AM.

I was running a 6D Mark II on the main composition while I moved a T3i around to different spots to see what else it could pick up. Out of 3700+ exposures on the 6D from 11PM-5AM, 170+ frames picked up meteors including a few bright fireballs. This was one of them. More fun to be had with the larger stack later.

Another fireball sliced directly overhead and aimed westward, left a thick trail that sported a momentary corkscrew on on one exposure, but was otherwise framed terribly...and I don't think that it pointed back to the Perseid radiant either, but need to study it a bit more.

imgimg20200812-IMG_0137_FULL-Edit-Edit_1280px.jpg

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Stack of 15 images to improve signal:noise ratio using Starry Landscape Stacker, Photoshop & Lightroom
Canon EOS 6D Mark II
Tokina AT-X 16-28 F/2.8 at 16mm
15 x 4 sec., f/2.8, ISO 12,800
A couple of the sequentially stack images contained additional meteors so those are included.
 

James K

EF3
Mar 26, 2019
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Colorado
Last night the smoke was up high enough that I couldn't smell anything (unlike daytime on the weekend where it did smell like a large campfire)
I didn't really see the clouds as much of an issue where I am. I think the biggest problem was the smoke, combined with the light pollution lighting it up (so pretty bad skyglow)
The one meteor I did see was looking east, and through that glowing mess...so out in a dark sky it probably would have been a pretty bright one.

I looked northwest for the big dipper (just because its usually so easy to find) but it wasn't visible, completely washed out.

Cool that "the only 'star' in the east" was Mars. I assume Jupiter & Saturn were probably a couple of the limited number of stars I saw.

I may try again tonight if the clouds clear out, but even if they do I have a feeling smoke is going to be an issue again.
Last night my best view (as far as clearness) was looking straight up...but not really an option since that would require laying down & I deff wouldn't want to risk falling asleep!
2nd best was looking south & up but there's a streetlight on the next street over...its bright orange glare made looking that direction annoying.
So I mainly stuck to northeast & up as much as was comfortable to do.
 
Sep 7, 2013
649
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Strasburg, CO
I didn't bother going camping. Fire restrictions everywhere, and since I live well east of metro, I still have a good view. I'm on vacation this week, so I posted up in the backyard 4 days in a row. Saturday was best until peak. Despite the smoke and moon, managed to see quite a few. Peak saw a bunch of long trails leaving beautiful colorful tails all topped off by a bomb of a fireball around 3am that lit up the whole area.

No camera this year. I've decided I'd rather watch and enjoy live than watching through a screen and managing batteries and all that nonsense.

All that being said, decent outcome. Definitely not the best I've seen by a long shot, but conditions what they were it was most definitely worth the late nights.

Bring on the Geminids and new moon conditions!
 
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Jeff Duda

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Definitely not the best I've seen by a long shot, but conditions what they were it was most definitely worth the late nights.

Bring on the Geminids and new moon conditions!
I would agree that this wasn't the best Perseid show I have ever seen, nor the best meteor shower overall. In fact, it has been quite some time since I saw a really good Perseid shower (sometime in the 90s). The last few years seemed to have underperformed. But I would give this year credit for at least having a few really big ones.

For me it's going to take a lot to top the 2017 Orionid shower that I saw from rural Oklahoma. While a lot of them were pretty faint, the sheer frequency of them blew my mind. They were also even more consistent in travel, color, and length than the Perseids, plus they were mixed with some other kind of shower that was brighter and longer in which the meteors were uniformly a different color and going a different direction. This show was so good I even was still seeing meteors through the light pollution in the south OKC metro area after I got home and walking into my apartment!
 

James K

EF3
Mar 26, 2019
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Colorado
I went out last night, but gave up & went back in after a bit over 15 minutes...
There was less smoke than the night before, but more clouds, so not much open/viewable sky.
At that point I figured tonight might be a possibility...but the smoke was deff thicker today (smelled like campfire too, even noticed it a bit inside at work a couple timed during the day)... so won't bother going out & looking, since I know ther'll be nothing to see.

I figure there is still camping on Sat night where I should be far enough south to be out from under the smoke plume, assuming wind pattern stays the same. I know campfire or anything with all the fire restrictions (but its been that way even since the 1st time we went back in june).
 

Jeff House

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Jun 1, 2008
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I didn't have great luck Wednesday morning 4am. Figured after the nocturnal pee break, go outside and check, since skies were clear with good vis. No effort to get rural, just IMBY. I saw one after about 20 minutes. It was short-track but decent brightness (probably fairly direct angle). However I did enjoy just star gazing. As Orion came up I'm thinking, yeah the hot humid days of summer won't last forever. Cool season is coming...

Been cloudy most nights here this week, but at least we got the peak night clear. Might try this weekend. Possible moon light impacted the show midweek. While past peak, the Moon will be less disruptive this weekend.

I've had better luck while doing other star gazing, comet watching, or using the telescope evenings. Just a few weeks ago with Comet NEOWISE we had a long-track grazer. Not quite a fireball but it was a good one. Evenings favor grazers at indirect angles, I suppose fewer but sometimes quite nice. I've seen 3 really good meteors, and none of them were during advertised showers.

That said, we should just enjoy being out under the sky. Really the regular stars are always incredible esp. from a dark sky. I can also get lost in the Milky Way and some of the star clusters out evenings this time of year.
 

Jeremy Perez

Supporter
One of those annoying composite shots — but was compelled to mash 5.5 hrs of meteors into a single image. Like the cat has been clawing at the furniture. 101 Perseids in there along with 22 sporadics from 11:10PM to 4:40AM MST/0610-1140Z.

imgimg20200812-IMG_0137_FULL-Edit-Edit-2-Edit_1280px.jpg

The image/star field chosen as the background was based on the shot that contains the bright fireball above and to the right of the San Francisco Peaks while the sky and foreground were illuminated by moonlight. All other meteors were carefully de-rotated, re-aligned and tone/color corrected to this base star field to show the abundance of Perseids tracing to their radiant and to show which meteors were sporadic or part of another ongoing shower.
 

James K

EF3
Mar 26, 2019
299
114
6
Colorado
Cool picture @Jeremy Perez

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Jeff House said:
That said, we should just enjoy being out under the sky. Really the regular stars are always incredible esp. from a dark sky. I can also get lost in the Milky Way and some of the star clusters out evenings this time of year.
I can say I did enjoy just sitting out up there on the roof Wed night. Yeah I only saw one meteor, and there really isn't much to see here star-wize even on a clear night, but...the temperature was perfect, the tree-crickets were out chirping away (yeah there was the constant highway-traffic in the background too which detracts from things), but overall it was "just one of those nice late summer nights" that are so great to be outside in.

When it comes to something like camping, one of the best parts is looking up at the star-filled night sky!
 
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James K

EF3
Mar 26, 2019
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Colorado
When camping yesterday, at first I wasn't sure if I'd see anything because it got fully cloudy in the evening, plus there was the smoke...but after dark the clouds fully cleared out, along with some of the smoke (passage of a weak coldfront to thank for that). So made for a pretty clear view :)

Ended up seeing a few meteors, including a nicer one one that lasted a just bit longer.
(I could see some flashes from lightning that had to be way south of me. which was also the direction I saw the one meteor in (it went from E to W))
Overall, it was pretty much a perfect saturday-night to go camping.

Just as an experiment I put the camera on a tripod, pointed it at the milkyway & snapped off multiple shots...I doubt I got anything other than 'black', but I plan to download Sequator & run them through that to see what happens.