August 13th, 2017, 04:30 a.m. local time
In what is becoming an annual event for me, this morning I got up at 4 a.m. to check out what I could of the Perseid Meteor Shower. Though the sky was mostly clear lest a few stray clouds, the waning Moon’s brightness was the only unfortunate circumstance compared to last year’s. Within about an hour I saw two meteors, a long one to the West and a short one close to the Perseid radiant point, very roughly between the constellations Cassiopeia and Perseus.
And speaking of constellations, I did set up my digital camera and took a bunch of long exposures in hopes of capturing a meteor digitally. Unfortunately this did not pan out, but I did get some interesting and surprising wide-field views of an August early morning sky.
The above image is not stacked, just a 30-second exposure at ISO 3200 pointed at the Perseid Meteor Shower’s radiant point. I can clearly see Cassiopeia and Perseus, as expected, but then I was surprised at all the other goodies in the photo.
The Pleiades was the first unexpected capture. I thought my favorite little star cluster was too far East to be in-range of my picture, but there it is, sitting in the very corner.
(Yes, the Pleiades are not a constellation. They are actually part of Taurus.)
Next I saw the bright stars of Auriga. At first, I thought one of these was Venus, but upon consulting my sky map app, Venus was much closer to the horizon at this time, hence below my picture.
The extremely faint constellation Camelopardalis is also here. Since this one isn’t exactly the hot topic of dinner conversations and cocktail parties, I drew it out for you and your friends’ reference, so you can indeed have something to gossip about at that next party.
Part of Cepheus is also visible.
The very last noteworthy object I discovered is Polaris. So counting Ursa Minor, that’s seven constellations in one picture! Below is the same picture with all these interesting sky objects called out. I recommend clicking the image to enlarge it.