Quadrantids Meteor Shower 2012: PART II : Looking Back

Most people think that being a landscape photographer is all fun and games. Well, if it were that easy everybody would be doing it, right? I can honestly say that I enjoy every second that I am outside in nature with my camera. My goal is to make you see and feel the beauty and power of mother nature is her most unguarded moment.

Key Momentum

Key Momentum

If I am able to inspire just one person  to care about our planet, oceans, rivers, weather,  night skies, landscapes and national parks , than I would say I am doing my “job”.  I have received an overwhelming amount of feedback from the 2012 Quadrantid’s and it’s a blessing. I wanted to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on my 2012 Quadrantid Meteor Shower post. I couldn’t have asked for a better response.  I will be responding to comments and emails for the next week or two , so don’t worry I will be answer all of your questions!
I will be running a photographic workshops in April for the Lyrid Meteor Shower. If  you are interested in joining this workshop,  please contact me through my website at
Many Thanks and Best Wishes-  
Jeff Berkes

Quadrantid Meteor Shower 2012 – Florida Keys Style

The Quadrantid Meteor Shower of 2012 was incredible! For the second year in a row, I was able to catch this shower under dark skies. This year I was fortunate enough to get flight to the Florida Keys to photograph the first meteor shower of 2012. (Thanks buddy, you know who you are). We flew into Key West on Tuesday morning and scouted out possible locations  to shoot the shower from over a 55 mile stretch of highway. We came up with some solid locations to shoot from and we had plenty of  time to bounce to different spots before the shower really picked up in intensity.

I took this shot in the early morning hours of January 4th, 2012.

Quadrantid Meteor and the Zodiac Lights

You can even see  the “Zodiac Lights” appearing as an illuminated looking triangular shape in the very early hours before sunrise (local time). You would think it was warm there… well,  it was almost freezing out.

Artic Air Plunges South - Accuweather

Artic Air Plunges South - Accuweather

The temp went down to 45 degrees near Big Pine Key, and with the wind chill, it felt like the 30’s. Keep in mind the all time record low for Key West, FL is 41. This was almost record cold for the southern most part in the Continental US.

Key West All Time Record Low is 41. I recorded 45 degrees near Big Pine Key, FL.

Key West All Time Record Low is 41. I recorded 45 degrees near Big Pine Key, FL.

 We decided to leave last minute when we saw the low temperatures where I live would be in the single digits with wind chills below zero. I did that last year and it was tough on the body and mind, not to mention the cold drained my batteries faster than ever and it was hard on the gear. It was nice to have only 4 layers of clothes on instead of 8.

3 Amigos and a Meteor Shower

3 Amigos and a Meteor Shower

I don’t go out for one or two hours during a meteor shower. I go out for the entire night. You greatly increase your chances at seeing more meteors and your chances for capturing one with your camera also increase. I don’t set up multiple cameras simple because being behind the “helm” when you capture one is the best feeling about photographing these showers, it makes the memory and photograph you just created much more personal.

2012 Quadrantid Meteor Shower - Dawn on a Meteor

2012 Quadrantid Meteor Shower - Dawn on a Meteor

This meteor shower was great to me last year and it was even better to me this year. I’m already loking forward to next years Quadrantids, but from where will I see them? Only time will tell. One thig I do know and that 2012 has started off on the right foot. Happy 2012 Everyone! I hope all of your wishes come true.
Quadrantid Meteor and the Zodiac Lights - Near Big Pine Key, FL

Quadrantid Meteor and the Zodiac Lights - Near Big Pine Key, FL

The “2012” is not photoshopped in. This is the RAW file.

Fine Art Prints can be ordered through my website at  www.jeffberkesphotography.com

UPDATE: 1.8.2012  –   Thanks for all the comments everyone! It’s been overwhelming with the amount of emails and messages I have been receiving. Just want to let you know that I appreciate every single one of them. I will respond to all very soon.  Many Thanks!

First Meteor Shower of 2012! The Quadrantids!

Tuesday night into Wednesday morning marks the annaual Quadrantid Meteor Shower. Last year was a major success and with the moon setting around 3am local time, this year should be awesome as well. Expect the radiant to rise in the NE sky around midnight with the peak condiitons occuring between 2am and sunrise (local time). meteors can be seen in any section of the sky.

 As an artic front pushes south the temperature will drop to around 10 degrees, the wind chills will be at or below zero degrees for much of the night. Florida is sounding really nice right about now 🙂 But reguardless of where you are in the northern hemisphere this show should “WOW” skywatchers all over. Rate can exceed 100 meteor per hour. You do not want to miss this one! Enjoy, and have a happy new year with the Quadrantids!

Moving On – 2012

With 2011 coming to a close,  we tend to look back on the year and think about the goals we’ve accomplished, the trips we took or wanted to take, the people we meet, the people we have lost, the gifts we have received and what is in store for us, in 2012.

 I’m very thankful for the opportunity to travel all over America while capturing our beautiful landscapes and the weather that forms those landscapes.  Being able to travel and see these things first hand,  is one of the best “gifts” I could have ever asked for. It’s very difficult both physically and mentally, but the single element that drives it all is the passion and dedication I have for extreme weather and the discovery for new things. I hope you find everything you are looking for in 2012! Remember, don’t wait  or wish for something  to happen, make it happen.  

Happy New Year 2012!

Leonid Meteor Shower 2011 – “A Look Back”

A storm system sitting over the eastern US finally started to pull out as the sun began to set. After a 2 hour drive to a darker location, we were greeted by a two rounds of light pillars! I haven’t seen them in such a long time, so it was such a blessing. We counted many Leonids, a few Orionids and some random meteors. I also saw a Leonid Fireball around 4:20am that lit up the sky creating shadows and a smoke trail which lasted close to 45 seconds. It was an incredible night!

Pillars of Light

Light Pillars can easily be confused with the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), I think we can all see why.  A light pillar is an atmospheric phenomenon created by the reflection of light from fine ice crystals. The conditions on the ground and in the sky need to be in harmony for this to happen. I rarely get a opportunity to photograph these wonders and it was really neat.  Light Pollution is an enemy of mine, but here it kind of did me a photographic favor.

Leonid Meteor Shower 2011

As the front cleared the temperatures dropped into the 20’s! Winds were gusting to 30mph at times creating wind chills in the teens. We were out from 6pm until 6:30am attempting to capture some Leonids on camera. We succeeded too! Everyone got meteor shots! Todd got his first meteor within the first 10 minutes! It took me a little longer to get my first meteor and I’m fine with that :).  We counted a decent amount of meteors Thursday into Friday morning, but it was certainly lower than I thought it would be. The place I decided on worked out perfectly, the skies were crystal clear and we captured a few meteors on with our camera. With those three things working out I would call this year’s Leonid Meteor Shower Workshop a great success!

Below: The first time I saw this meteor was when I came home and looked through my photos. Surprise!!

Leonid Meteor at 5:43am - November 18th, 2011

Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks Thursday Night!

The Leonids are back!  Tomorrow night into Friday morning you can expect to see rates  between 20-50/hr. Some experts have said there could some a couple outbursts this year to around 200/hr , but that won’t favor the United States and with the moon, even worst. We are now reaching the winter months, it can get pretty cold out and clouds can dominate the landscape.  This year the moon will rise around midnight, but don’t let that keep you inside!  There will be plenty of time in the evening hours with darker skies for the first half of the shower. When the moon rises it will then  interfere with the meteor shower, but it won’t wash them all away. Leonid Fireballs are likely and I will be there when one falls.

Falling Star over Haleakala Crater - Maui, HI

 It’s going down into the 20’s tomorrow night where I live. Remember to dress warm! Bring gloves, insulated boots, blankets, hats, fluids, camping chairs, cameras, tripods and some snacks!  I would say meteor rates will be around 20 /hr with some sporadic bright fireballs. Let’s hope the weather is on my side!

“Islands in Autumn” Reaches the Hompage of National Geographic!

“Islands in Autumn” has become my most popular photograph over the last two weeks. Ten of thousands of visitors have reached my website and the feedback that I have read and received, has been wonderful.  I have read comments about it being a comet,  asteroid  or an iridium flare. I would like to tell everyone that indeed, this is a genuine Orionid Meteor. I have followed meteor showers for at least the last 10 years. I was a teenager when I  saw the Leonid Storms of the 90’s from my back yard and it really sparked an interest. 

One of the biggest factors that hurts your chances of viewing these showers  besides the ability to stay up all night is light pollution and  weather.. If it’s cloudy, you won’t see a single meteor and with light pollution, it turns night into day. I have photographed various meteor showers from many places in the US , some of those places are  Mauna Kea, HI,  Kauai, Maui, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Montana, Vermont, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Hampshire and St. Thomas. 

Here is a photo of a Perseid Meteor exploding over the Pacific Ocean .  Taken from the southern coast of Kauai, August 2010. I love the reflections in the water.

Kauai - Perseid MeteorQuadrantid Meteor 2011 Quadrantid Meteor Over Coastal Maryland.

Perseid over Utah 2011

Perseid Meteor - Utah

Quadrantids January 2011. Maryland

Quadrantid Meteor Over Coastal Maryland.

New meteor photos November 2011 will be posted the first week of December 2011. Good luck!