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Perseids Meteor Shower Over France

Photo of Perseids meteor shower by landscape photographer Mike Long

Mike Long

Photographer Mike Long shows a determined nature photographer can get the image -- as long as he's willing to hike up a few thousand feet and sleep in a windy tent on the side of a mountain.

The photo was taken in the Hautes Alpes of southern France below Pic de Bure.

In Mike Long's words:

Because the full moon was scheduled to arrive on the same evening (August 13th) as the peak time for viewing the Perseids this year, I decided to photograph a few nights earlier, on August 10th, when the full moon would set at around 4am. In theory I'd have around an hour of relative darkness before sunrise to hopefully capture a few meteors, which is also the best time for viewing them.

I started hiking at 7pm on Tuesday August 9th and arrived at high camp around 11pm - there were no other people around. ... I set up my tent, which I'd carried more for protection from the wind and as a prop than for sleeping, then mounted my Nikon D700 with 17-35mm wide angle lens onto a sturdy tripod. Using a programmable remote release I preset my camera to take consecutive shots at 35 seconds each, which kept the stars as points of light - any longer than 35 seconds and the stars would begin appearing as trails because of the earth's rotation. I was fortunate this night because it was very calm outside in an area known for high winds.

When I viewed my photos later that day I found that most had no meteors at all while a couple had one or two short streaks. This one image from around 60 total had four meteor streaks plus what I believe is the Andromeda (M31) galaxy. The mountain is illuminated by a small amount of reflected moonlight from peaks on the opposite side of the valley - the moon was a couple minutes away from setting at this point.

Mike Long is a professional freelance photographer and journalist. Originally from Seattle, he currently lives in France where he specializes in adventure travel and landscape photography.


Mike Long


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