An Open Opportunity — the Perseid Meteor Shower
The wildfire smoke over Western United States disappeared just in time for me to see the peak of the meteor shower.
Here in Utah, we’re experiencing our worst drought in decades. A few months ago, a city in Western Canada caught fire due to the extreme heat. And for the past few weeks, massive wildfires from California shot up enough smoke to fill the skies with smoke across the Western United States. The smoke has prevented me from being able to shoot some astrophotography, a favorite hobby of mine.
Last week, a fellow photographer told me that the smokes were due to clear and I was ecstatic to hear about the prediction. A few days later, the skies did indeed clear, giving me a window to go shoot the night sky. But at first, I was hesitant about actually going out to shoot some photos, despite my strong desire to.
The smoke disappeared on a Wednesday evening, definitely a night where I couldn’t go to bed too late because I had work the following morning. However, the Perseid Meteor Shower was at its peak on Wednesday night as well. I told myself that I had to take the chance before the smoke came back.
“Screw it,” I said to myself. “I want to see the meteor shower.”
Until that night, I had never seen a meteor shower before. I grew in Houston, Texas, the fourth biggest city in the United States and a massive source of light pollution. I never really got the opportunity to see meteor showers, much less very many stars. The clearing of the wildfire smoke gave me the opportunity to see the Perseid Meteor shower.
The Perseid Meteor Shower is an annual event, taking place in the Northern Hemisphere during the late summer. When the moon is down, the sky is filled with shooting stars across the night sky.
Every year, Earth passes through the tail dust from the comet Swift-Tuttle. The comet has a 133-year orbit. It is the closest near-earth object known, but researchers predict the comet won’t crash into Earth for a few thousand years. Until then, we get to enjoy the stream of debris that grazes the Earth’s atmosphere. We see these as “shooting stars”, originating from the constellation, Perseus. The Perseid Meteor Shower bears its name from the nearby constellation.
That night, I definitely saw more meteors with my naked eye, despite capturing a few photos on my camera. Every few seconds, a streak raced across the sky. My jaw dropped open frequently and I found myself having to shut it tight (to avoid the flies, of course). The sky was stunningly beautiful and I ended up staying longer than I had intended.
Oops. Least, I got some cool photos.
Picture was taken August 2021, Utah with a Canon EOS Rebel SL1 and star tracker.