2012 Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks This Weekend!!!

Perseid Meteor falling over the Pacific Ocean south of Hilo

The Perseids are here! As seen on National Geograhpic’s website. Every year we enter a swath of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle sparking these “falling stars”.  Last year was a  bust with a full moon washing out all but the brightest ones.  As pictured below..

Perseid Meteor and Full Moon 2011

Perseid Meteor and Full Moon 2011

 Unlike last year, this year should be much better. The moon rises in the early morning as a crescent which is better than the bright full moon.  The best place watch is away from city lights where the light pollution takes over our night sky. Where ever you live just take a 30 minute drive out-of-town. This year we have a bonus!  Venus and Jupiter will align with the slender crescent moon in the eastern sky before sunrise in a dazzling morning sky show with a flurry of Perseid Meteors!  The best time to look is between 1am and 4am (NE) when the radiant is the highest in the sky. featured below…

Perseid Sky Map

 I have had the honor of photographing this meteor shower multiple times from many places. Last year I photographed it from Utah, Arizona and Pennsylvania and I’m planning on extending that streak to a couple additional states this weekend. Here are a few shots from past meteor showers.Perseid Meteor over the Utah Desert 2011.

Utah Desert 2011.Delta Aquarid - Glacier 2008

Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower 2008

Quadrantid Meteor Shower 2012

Quadrantid Meteor Shower 2012

Quadrantid Meteor Shower – Florida Keys

Perseid Meteor Shower

Perseid Meteor Shower 2010

Perseids – Big Island of Hawaii

Leonids 2011

Leonids 2011

Leonid Meteor Shower – New Jersey 2011

Volcano and Perseid Meteor 2010

Volcano and Perseid Meteor 2010

The Kilauea Volcano Caldera, the Milkyway and a Perseid Meteor , Hawaii

Lyrids 2012

Lyrids 2012

Lyrid Meteor Shower 2012 – Virginia

Quadrantids in the Florida Keys 2012!

Quadrantids in the Florida Keys 2012!

 

 On a single night of the year you can see a falling star, but there are nights where the chances increase by a ton!  The Perseids start in late July and last until  about the 18th of August, the greatest activity of the shower will occur this weekend so be sure to go outside tonight and make a few wis

You can see these meteors in any direction in the sky. Make sure you bring a camping chair or blanket and look straight up without focusing on any single area in the sky. If you choose to photograph the shower make sure you use a lens which can cover a good portion of the sky and bring lots of snacks! Try not to look at cell phones or use flashlights that aren’t “red lights” this damages your night vision. When you first arrive at your sight make sure you allow 10-15minutes for your eyes to adjust to the night sky. Do not look at or into any light sources, it will tak you another 15 minutes for your eyes to adjust into (night mode).

Check back for a follow up to the shower and happy meteor hunting!

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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!

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

“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!

Combining Seasons – An October Nor’Easter 2011

Here are a couple of pictures I took while out Saturday during the 100 year storm.  I have always wanted to combine the seasons of Fall and Winter into one photograph, but conditions never worked out no matter where I was during the fall.  It could not have been any better than this past weekend.  The fall foliage was at it’s peak when this storm hit. Six inches of heavy wet  snow gave tremendous contrast to the vibrant colors in Autumn.

Chester Creek, Pennsylvania.

The yellow leaves on this tree stand out from the monochromatic landscape.

 The combination of the heavy wet snow on trees that are still bearing leaves made for dangerous and deadly conditions. This tree had just split across the road as we pulled up.  While standing out there I heard four seperate trees cracking and falling to the ground.  Needless to say, we couldn’t enter the state park because the road was littered in trees. A park ranger and I continued north under the tree to the enterance of the park. If I was going to continue it was going to have to be on foot.

I have driven 100 miles in a full blown Nor’Eatser, i’ve camped in 60mph wind gusts and 30″ of snowfall. I was more scared of this storm than any other winter storm I have documented over the last 10 years.

Sadly, at least 18 people have lost their lives in this historic storm.  Many of  them could have been avoided and some of them were just bad luck. You should now prep yourself on what you need to do to stay safe this winter. It could be a long one, and it’s still 6 weeks away from the starting line.

 

Halloween Weekend Snowstorm Headed for the Northeast?

OCTOBER NOREASTER UPDATE: 10.29.2011 – 11:59pm

 

We have received 6-10″ of snow from this powerful October Nor’easter. It has pulled out of the region leaving us with many downed trees and powerlines. 

 

SNOWSTORM UPDATE:   10.28.201  –  4:30pm

 

WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 8 AM SATURDAY TO 2 AM EDT SUNDAY
UNTIL 6:00AM EDT

Urgent – Winter Weather Message
National Weather Service Mount Holly NJ
352 PM EDT Fri Oct 28 2011

Hunterdon-Somerset-Chester-Montgomery-Bucks-
Including The Cities Of, Flemington, Somerville,
West Chester, Norristown, Doylestown

, Winter Storm Warning In Effect From 8 AM Saturday To 2 AM Edt
Sunday,

The National Weather Service In Mount Holly Has Issued A Winter
Storm Warning For Heavy Wet Snow, Which Is In Effect From 8 Am
Saturday To 2 AM EDT Sunday.

* Accumulations, 3 To 6 Inches. The Highest Amounts Mainly Across
The Higher Elevations And On Non-Paved Surfaces. Snow could exceed these totals depending on the track.

* Timing, Rain Will Develop After Midnight Tonight, Then Mix With
And Change To Wet Snow During Saturday Morning.

* Impacts, Hazardous Travel Developing, And The Heavy Wet Snow
Will Likely Weigh Down Trees Which Still Have Leaves On Them.
This Will Lead To Some Downed Trees And Power Outages. The Wet
Snow May Fall Heavy At Times During The Height Of The Storm,
Locally Increasing The Accumulation Rate.

* Winds, North 15 To 25 Mph With Gusts Up To 30 Mph.

* Temperatures, In The Upper 30s To Lower 40s, But Then Dropping
To Near Freezing Saturday Night.

* Visibilities, Reduced To Well Under A Mile At Times.

Precautionary/Preparedness Actions,

A Winter Storm Warning Means Significant Amounts Of Snow Are
Expected. Strong Winds Are Also Possible. This Will Make Travel
Very Hazardous.

Snowfall totals now predicted to be around 3-8″for central Chester County, Pa and 6-10″ for northern Chester County,PA. Keep an eye on the weather.:00:00 AM

 

 

SNOWSTORM UPDATE : 10.28.2011 –

The possibility of a snowstorm impacting the Philadelphia region with more than 6″ of snow is more likely now than it has been. As of now Philadlephia could see between 3 6″, West Chester 4-8″ , French Creek 6-10″ and then North and east into the Poconos could see over a 12″ of snow when all said and done….

Time to clean out my car and charge my batteries.. It could be a long weekend.

Documenting the strong winds and beach erosion associated with the Christmas Storm of 2010. Barnegat Light, NJ

Are you ready for another long winter in the mid-atlantic and northeast ?  This photo is from February 2010 when we received two Nor’easters in four days, each dumping 3 feet of snow.

Snowmageddon 2010

 The potential snowstorm could start by early Saturday morning and last through the day, that is if it even develops. Either way, I will be keeping a close eye on the weather to see what my chances are at chasing the  fall colors covered in our first snow. The possiblity of up to 3″ is forecasted for my area, but if I travel to the north (25-60miles) I could potentially see snow totals near 8″+ , but with less foliage on the trees. I’m going to stay further south and hope for a fresh snow on the colors of autumn during peak conditions right in my area.. You do not  need to travel far to find great photo ops sometimes.

Snowmageddon 2010

“Islands in Autumn” – Orionid Meteor Shower 2011

The meteor shower was a sucess! The clouds gave way granting me a grand view of the night sky. The Photo I took here “Islands in Autumn”

Orionid Meteor Shower 2011. As Seen on MSN, Spaceweather and Space.com

has been making it’s way around town lately.

Here is what I wrote Alan Doyle  @ MSN:

I also gave Alan Doyle some information about the picture  at MSN  (  http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/10/24/8470300-catch-a-falling-star-and-fall-colors ).   

Update for 11:30 p.m. ET: In an email, Jeff Berkes provides further details about how he captured that amazing image:

“I left my house in West Chester, Pa., shortly after midnight and arrived at French Creek State Park in southeastern Pennsylvania around 1 a.m. on October 22. Upon arrival, I was greeted by a crystal clear sky and a moody fog rolling off the lake. I was outside for only a couple of minutes before I saw my first Orionid meteor. I knew right then it was going to be a great night. The moon beginning its ascent around 2:15 a.m. worried me a bit, but the Orionids were flying high and bright. It was 3:27 a.m. when I captured this image, my first Orionid shot of the morning. I stayed up all night while taking over 500 photos and counted close to 30 meteors. I even had enough energy from a Wawa blueberry muffin to continue shooting through sunrise, before taking the 45-minute drive home at 9 a.m.

“I used a technique called ‘light painting’ to illuminate the foreground subjects in this shot. This is where I use a high-powered flashlight to light up objects up to 1,000 feet away. I spent the first 30 minutes checking out different angles before settling on this location. I usually do not like shooting directly into the moon when shooting meteors; however, with it being very low and behind the trees, it was not a problem for this bright meteor to burn itself into my sensor. Light pollution for once actually helped me out here by adding some flavor to the horizon and separating the trees from the sky. Around 2 a.m., I anchored my tripod along the water’s edge facing out over the lake, while the constellation Orion was rising higher off my right shoulder in the southeastern sky. I fixed the exposure time for the flashlight and then started popping off shots until I eventually captured one of these majestic meteors.”

Berkes used a Nikon D3 camera with a 17mm lens. ISO: 800. Exposure: 25 seconds at f/2.8.””

cont…

Now some will say “better the camera,  better the pictures”.  Well, in some respect maybee, but it’s combination of lens choice, camera settings and exposure times, not to mention the composition and thought process put into a single photograph. I planned to shoot there one month in advance. I actually found FIVE  locations with 150 miles just in case weather was an issue, so there was lots of planning and researching involved. I have been shooting at night since I was teenager in the mid- 90’s, so I have had a good amount of experience with using ligting techniques at night like “light painting” which I used to illuminate the foreground. The #1 thing I had here was lucky and some patience. The best meteors I saw that night never crossed my lens.. or my lense was processing the last image and I could shoot. (I need a back-up)

I find a great deal of peace at night. Maybee it’s the beauty of the stars shinning overhead or the the sound of night. I’m not sure, I just have something in me that wants get out capture nature at it’s most exciting moment. Tornado, lightning, blizzard , wildfire or the center of our galaxy…  photographing landscapes at night is my blank canvas as a photographer, I can create almost anything I want.

Here is another photo from that morning.

Orionid Meteor over French Creek State Park

 I also photographed the Nothern Lights the night MSN published the article about my “falling star” and was published 2 times in one day on MSN. In case you didn’t see the great pictures from everywhere, check them out here! http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/10/25/8474218-northern-lights-go-way-way-south

Here is the only shot I could really get.. I was in such a rush to leave that I left my tripod mount on my 70-200mm lens at home! I used my sweatshirt as a “nest”  for my camera and I took shots from on top of the basket on my SUV!  Hey it worked!  Thanks Drew, for giving me the “I forgot my tripod for a nighttime assignment” in class.

Northern Lights in Chester County, PA!