Perseids over Denver, from 14,000 feet

By Phil Plait | August 15, 2012 7:00 am

I saw quite a few photos of the recent Perseids meteor shower, but one of them is a clear winner: this ethereal, beautiful shot by astrophotographer Thomas O’Brien:

[Click to enmeteoroidenate.]

Isn’t that stunning? He took it at Mt. Evans in Colorado, at an elevation of 14,000 feet. He was looking east, over Denver, and you can see the waning crescent Moon rising just over the city. Breathtaking.

What’s funny, too, is that the first picture I saw by him was the small one inset here (click it to embiggen) which is also beautiful. I asked him if I could run it on the blog, and he said yes… and then I saw the Moonrise picture above and quickly changed my mind on which one to run first!

Thomas has a lot of gorgeous night sky shots on his website, and he sells prints of all of them. He’s got some seriously great stuff there.

And if you missed the meteors, don’t fret: the Leonids and Geminids are coming up in the next few months, and they’re really good, too. I’ll have more on them as their time approaches.

Image credit: Thomas O’Brien, used by permission.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures

Comments (14)

  1. Matt Stachoni

    Death from the skies!! pewpewpewpew!

  2. csrster

    What’s the exposure? Is he tracking the stars, and if so why isn’t the foreground blurred? Or is it a montage of the ground and sky?

  3. Monkey Hybrid

    I think this must be a composition of several photos. Presumably, one or two meteors per exposure, then masked and blended together with a single background to avoid star trailing or blurring of landscape if tracking the stars. Nice composition though, really highlights that the meteors sharre a common source.

  4. Chris

    I think it must be a composition as well. Otherwise the clouds would be blurred even over a few minutes, and I doubt you could see some of the stars through the clouds.

  5. Alex

    For those wondering about the composition, from the G+ comments on the second image, he says: “i shoot a timelapse then I bring all photos that have a meteor in them into photoshop to combine them into a single exposure. i always pick the best shot out of the images with a meteor in them to be the background”

  6. *Of*course* this is a composite image: the 2012 Perseids were pretty normal, i.e. with bright meteors many minutes apart. Since there’s neither sky rotation nor cloud movement here, all but one of the meteors had to be inserted later, perhaps all of them. Images like this should be clearly marked as “art”, not real photography.

  7. Wow, I think what’s different with this one is the fact that a couple of meteors are coming at a weird angle, which gives the sensation of 3D. Awesome picture, it would be nice to know what equipment he uses to take this photographs.
    Thanks for the pic Phil, it’s going straight to my background.

  8. thanks everyone. its a composite of all the meteor shots i took from that location and a photo of the moonrise (that also included a meteor in it). I didn’t move the camera at all during the entire night. each exposure was 5 seconds f1.6 24mm iso 1600 with a canon 5dmark2. I will be putting it together as a time-lapse in the future.

    prints are available here

  9. Now we are getting people scared! “See constant!!1! bombardment!!1!!”
    And NASA will get it´s budget we want.

  10. kat wagner

    Beat me with chains beautiful, jeez!

  11. Musical Lottie

    Ooooh, pretty! This year I saw ~one~ Perseid meteor as it has been cloudy for most nights – and last year it was cloudy for the Leonids and Geminids too, *grump*. Stupid inland UK weather.

    Still, pictures like this almost make up for missing pretty much the whole thing!

  12. JB of Brisbane

    “Here is the news –
    Coming to you every hour upon the hour.
    Here is the news –
    The weather’s fine, but there may be a meteor shower.”

    With apologies to Jeff Lynne and Electric Light Orchestra.


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