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!

2012 Lyrid Meteor Shower Peaks This Weekend!

A Lyrid meteor over the Presidential Range, NH

A Lyrid meteor over the Presidential Range, NH

The Lyrids are almost here! It’s been a long 3 months since there has been a meteor shower to write home about. This weekend the condition will be perfect! As long as you have clear skies, viewing these meteors won’t be hard at all. The shower will peak Saturday night April 21st into the morning hours of April 22nd. If you can pull an “all night ‘r”  I suggest you do it that night.. If the forecast isn’t looking good for your area,  try to view the shower the night before, there will still be meteors as the shower starts on the 16th and ending on the 24th of april.

Sky Chart

Sky Chart

I have seen and heard reports of some fireballs in the evening as the radiant breeches the horizon. Look for the bright fireballs between 8pm and 10pm.

Perseid Fireball over Kauai

Expect 15-20 meteors per hour. In years past, there have been records of the shower going crazy peaking  over 100 meteors per hour. We don’t know what it will be like this year until it’s over.  This year, I will be perched up into the mountains high above light pollution. I’m hoping for clear skies!

 Virginia Skies

Let me know if you see any!

(ATREX) Mission:Night Shinning Tracer Clouds over the East Coast, Thanks NASA!

(ATREX) Mission Chemical Tracers - March 27th, 2012 @ 5:13am

(ATREX) Mission : Chemical Tracers - March 27th, 2012 @ 5:13am

After weeks of delays from Mother Nature it happen….. 5 rockets in 5 minutes!  The launch began just before 5am starting a onslought of rockets and chemical trails in the upper most part of our atmosphere. I spent a lot of time driving around and staying up late at night the last couple of weeks, it all paid off this morning with a successful launch from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. I didn’t have the time this week like last week, so I couldn’t make another 400 mile roundtrip, over-nighter this week. I had some great spots less than 20  miles from the Wallops Flight Facility I “scouted” in earlier weeks…like the photo below.

ATREX Launch attempt Location 3

ATREX Launch attempt Location 3

On earlier launch attempts I had traveled hundreds of miles to get into great locations within 20 miles from Wallops Island. This was my “secret” spot that I had planned to photograph the launch from. If it wasn’t for a boat, I would have had it last Friday morning, but luck wasn’t on my side that night. Imagine this picture with  glowing eerie clouds piercing through  the sky in the early hours before dawn. I can’t help but to beat myself up, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it.  I am just happy that I was able be a witness to the spectacle.  Here are some other shots from some failed attempts as well as a few more from this morning.

18 miles from Wallops Island, last Friday morning,

 ARTEX Dolphins

 It was a great ride the last 2 weeks and I can’t wait for another launch.. I hope next time NASA launches 12 rockets in 12 minutes! Keep your eyes to the sky, you never know what you may find. 

Cheers-

Keeping Your Head Up

Random Meteor - March 2012

Random Meteor - March 2012

I drove 3 hours, about (180 miles) to view the launch attempt at Wallops Flight facility in Virginia, Thursday night, March 22/23, 2012. Weather has been insane across much of the country, but this night seemed worth the trip. With clearing in the forecast, I left Pennsylvania around 8:45pm and arrived on Assateague Island National Seashore around midnight. The weather was perfect for the first 45 minute’s, then some clouds started to pass through. I really wanted this to happen after driving a good distance, but as the skies cleared another issue came up and the launch was cancelled. I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me, but I made the best out of the trip. I continued to shoot through the night working on some personal projects. I started to see a few meteors  fall from the same location in the sky.  I ended up catching this falling star between the clouds in the early hours of Friday morning. Seeing a few meteors really made the trip worth it, and catching one on “film” made it even better. New meteor shower discovered?  The point is you can predict all you want, but there will always be unseen issues and surprises along the way, and you won’t know what they will be until you put yourself out there. I plan to capture the mega launch of 5 rockets in 5 minutes again this week.  The skies will be clear as weather patterns are shifting, bringing in a new wind. Lets hope that the ” planets will align” this week and give us what everyone has been waiting for!

2012 Meteor Shower Photo Tours now up!!

Tree of the Desert, August 2011.

Tree of the Desert, August 2011.

Hi Everyone!

I have just released my first two nighttime / meteor shower workshops for 2012. The First is the annual Lyrid Meteor Shower, our destination is Shenandoah Naitonal Park, in Virginia. The second, is the Orionid Meteor Shower in October 2012  at Acadia National Park, in Maine. 

More information can be found at my website                  www.jeffberkesphotography.com

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
 
 
 
 

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