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How to shoot the Perseid meteor shower

Categories: Community, Science & Technology

mi-460-mile-lake-starry-sky.jpg The Perseid meteor shower peaks between Aug. 12 and Aug. 13. (Evan Mitsui/CBC) 

If you want to see the Perseid meteor shower in all its glory, tonight is the night. 

The Perseids -- which get their name from the constellation Perseus, where the shower appears to originate -- produce more fireballs than any other annual meteor shower, according to NASA. 

In order to see the spectacle, it's best to be in a rural area with less light pollution, gazing at the sky between 10:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. local time. 

The best viewing for this shower will be before dawn on the morning of Aug. 12 and Aug. 13. It might be a great time to take some photos. 

Here are some tips for shooting stars

Rule #1 is to keep your camera steady. 

Shooting at night requires holding the shutter open longer, usually for several seconds, minutes or even hours (as opposed to the 10ths or 100ths of a second needed in daylight).

With this in mind, getting away from bright city lights will dramatically increase the chances of getting a crisp, dark sky against which the stars will really pop out. 

Use a heavy tripod with a locking ball head to keep the camera as still as possible during the exposure. 

Many cameras, including most dSLRs, allow for exposures up to 30 seconds - plenty of time to capture the night sky and, if you're lucky, a shooting star will streak across the frame. 

To get a circular effect in the stars (taking advantage of the rotation of the earth), look for the 'B' on your shutter control dial (or in the manual control settings of many new digital point and shoot cameras). Use that setting with an old-fashioned bulb-release (or one of the more expensive digital versions) to hold the shutter open as long as you like. 

No tripod or bulb release? 

Make a sandbag out of an old sock or use a shoe. Even a pile of rocks can work. 

Using a high ISO can work as well for shorter exposures, but if its a meteor shot you want, the longer exposure gives you a wider window of time in which a shooting star, or several, can track across the sky and burn itself into your exposure.

If you take any great photos of the period meteor shower and would like to share them with the community, please upload them using the tool below.

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