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!

Big Storms Make Big Impressions – July 2012 Pennsylvania GMA

We were placed in a moderate risk area for severe weather on Thursday July 27th, 2012. Everything was in place to get dangerous yet magnificent storms. I haven’t had a lot of time to chase lately, basically none. Which is very rare, I have missed 7 chases in a row, but not this day! As storms fired up over lake Erie in NW  Pennsylvania , I collected all of my gear for the day and played a waiting game. I really wanted to photographed the storms in the evening around sunset so I picked southeastern, PA where is it flat and wide open in most areas. I get tired of chasing in the sticks, it’s too dangerous with falling trees and branches. Even though that doesn’t stop me, I choose to bypass that idea and go for the fields.

Setting up for the Shot

It is one thing to “chase”, but it’s another to capture your subjects in the most dramatic way. Composition, lighting, depth of field and exposure are all very important in creating stunning photos. If you don’t get it right the first time, you don’t have a second chance. I spent about one hour looking for a good spot to set up. I found many photogenic locations but parking was an issue, with cars and Amish Buggies all around, it became a challenge in itself. I finally found my spot as the storms approached from the Northwest.

It’s coming!

I had a few cameras rolling the entire time. Two running HD video and my “Beast” the Nikon D3, taking the stills.

Corn Storm

Corn Storm

The clouds were so dramatic this particular evening in SE PA. The right time of day, cloud thickness and the intensity of the storm all contributed to its beauty. Winds started to pick up and gusted to near 60mph. Some trees were completely snapped at the base, and I am talking 50 foot trees with a diameter of 2 feet! Dirt began to rise up from beneath to corn  as lightning began to dance about the horizon 3miles to my northwest. I knew there was a reason why I had to pass up chases earlier this year. It was because this storm had more to offer than most storms.

Sudden Death

Sudden Death

 I always feel like it’s me (Jeff Berkes) vs. Mother Nature when confronting  a storm, summer or winter.  I love to get right in front of them and feel the power it has to offer.  For me it is  just about experiencing an event. The photos come 2nd as a way to share my experience with others, but in reality, if I do not get good shots, I do get frustrated! I spent about 10 hours that day chasing and photographing instense lighting until the wee hours of the morning. I took over 1000 photos and shot around 5 hours worth of video. IHope to get to it soon so check back for more storms chasing photos from 2012.

Looking East

Looking East

This was looking east towards Philadlephia as the Shelf Cloud came overhead.

Barreling Through

Barreling Through

This photo is from looking down the other end of the road. Shelf Cloud / Wall Cloud passed overhead, I looked behind me and saw yet again some of the most dramatic and beautiful cloud formations. There was weak rotation, but lots of movement in the clouds, it was simply stunning. Another Severe Thunderstorm Watch has just been issued for our area until 10pm tonight. These storms will not form the incccredible line like we had on Thursday, but we could see some very intense winds and lightning. Have a safe weekend! More photo and videos to come!

Sunday on Good Morning America they are going to feature some photos I took from this Chase, be sure to check it out!