Last week was the peak of the Perseid meteor shower and NASA’s twitter feed this year leading up to the peak days was saying that this years Perseid meteor show was expected to be one of the best. It was a clear night on the peak night so with all of the hype from NASA I decided to drag the whole family out to the backyard and gaze upward. My wife’s parents were also visiting so going outside made it extra special because they had never seen a meteor before.
I planned to get the whole family outside just after sunset so our eyes could naturally adjust to the darkness. We are lucky to live far enough way from the city so the light pollution is very limited which allows for a great viewing of the sky. We spread a few blankets out in the back yard and settled in for a night. I started the night off with a few left over bottle rockets to keep the kids interested as the night sky darkened. After that something amazing happened we bonded and talked and laughed as a family as we gazed upwards waiting for some of the meteors to start appearing as the Earth was passing through the remnants of the Swift-Tuttle comet.
The night sky finally became dark enough and we saw the first meteor of the night. It was a quick orange streak of light and half of us saw it. Then there was another one and my mother-in-law saw it and she shrieked and squealed in excitement, and that was amazing. After the sky became fully dark there were meteor sightings about every minute and it was like watching the fireworks on the Fourth of July. In between the meteor sightings we were stargazing using the iPad application Star Walk from the European Space Agency. It was amazing being able to see a bright light in the sky and instantly being able to identify what it was. After some time I decided to bring out the camera to see if I could capture the night sky and what I was able to photograph with just my camera was amazing. The family spent most of the night admiring the big dipper and how everything revolved around the north star.
After shooting some of the well know constellations I decided to try and capture some of the meteors as well as the aircraft arrivals that fly near out house. I was lucky enough to get them both in this photograph.
Over all it was an amazing night as a family and the lack of a Moon made the stargazing perfect. I will be definitely be making sure that the Perseid meteor shower will be on the calendar for next year and the years to come.