2009 Leonid meteor shower

Last night at the last minute I decided to head out to the Pinon Hills to try and photograph the Leonid meteor shower. The Pinon Hills are off Highway 138 near Wrightwood, CA. on the opposite side (north) of the San Gabriel Mts. from L.A. This is apparently one of the darker areas near L.A. without driving for 3-4 hours. I left the Pasadena area about 10pm and got out there by midnight. I got home at 5 am.

I drove off 138 onto a dirt road where there were as few lights as possible and used the Joshua Trees in the foreground. There was still quite a lot of light coming from Victorville and Palmdale as well as the massive glow from LA to the Southwest. It was kind of creepy out there since I'd never been there in the daylight. I know there is some interesting folks that live out there so I began imagining crack dealers with mean dogs discovering me. I also began think about tarantulas and scorpions crawling up my legs in the dark.

No such luck.

I was lucky to get this one frame with a few comets in it. Dozens of other frames had only Joshua trees and sky. So it was really a matter of luck whether the camera was pointed where the meteor was. I knew the general area but even with a wide lens it was hard to capture enough of the sky in the frame. I saw a few good ones, but it really wasn't as good as I thought it might be.

Next time I will drive to a darker place and use 2-3 cameras pointed in various directions. Also, I'll bring my heavier coat. It was freezing last night.

Photo copyright by Keith Skelton

This exposure was about 60 sec. at f4, ISO 800. Nikon D300 - 12-24mm at 12mm. (18mm equivalent) The Nikon isn't as good as some of the Canons for shooting long exposures. You can see some of the blotchy look.