With the rise of social media, events such as meteor showers get a lot more publicity than they used to so many of you may know by now that the Geminid meteor shower peaks on the night of December 13th and into the morning of December 14th. The Geminids are a very active shower but not as famous as the August Perseids, probably because for many people in the northern hemisphere, it is colder in December! Well, in Tucson, it is still pretty warm and humid in August and can be quite cloudy. The Geminids frequently feature clear skies and sometimes (like this year) pleasant temperatures.
Well, sometimes that is. The forecast for tomorrow night, the true peak, is for a 100% chance of rain in Tucson. Fortunately, the Geminids have a fairly broad peak so I went out tonight. Very good show, easily averaged a 2-3 a minute over an hour and a half or so. And I had my camera set up snapping away. It took a series of 40 second exposures, 138 total pictures (adds up to about an hour and a half of pics) before the battery died.
I was at Saguaro National Park East. After I was out there for a little while, the cops showed up. They checked out what I was doing and then I think arrested someone who was sitting in a car drinking (I head them talking about finding vodka). You can see the police cruiser lights on the cactus for quite a few shots. You can also see lighting changes due to an occasional car driving by. Toward the end of my photography, I heard something walking around. Based on a snorting sound I also heard, I think there were javelinas nearby. The adventures of astrophotography in Tucson!
So here is the time lapse I put together...pretty much no processing. I may try to redo this later to bring out some more meteors. Oh, and watch this full screen in 1080p for best results.
I hope you have clear skies tomorrow night. The Geminids start a bit earlier than most meteor showers. I was getting good numbers by 11pm local time (for many you have to wait until much later!) So go out and take a peak, especially if you have nice weather.
Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.