August 11th, 2022, 03:18 a.m. local time
August 11th, 2022, 03:51 a.m. local time
Planning to watch this year's Perseid Meteor Shower was tricky primarily due to the emergence of the near-Full Moon around the most optimal days. I also had to factor in weather forecasts. Add in the horrible light pollution in my area, even in the pre-dawn hours, and you may have a case to simply skip the shower for '22.
Even in ideal dark(er) sky conditions, finding meteors is not easy from my backyard. Still, based on all the known factors, I decided that this morning would be the best chance. When I went outside at 3 a.m., the first obvious obstruction was the glare of the Moon from the Southwest. I found it surprisingly bright, and I had to simply ignore that entire area of sky.
Fortunately, the Perseids are supposed to emanate pre-dawn from my Northeast sky. Unfortunately, however, my North sky is, in general, the most impacted by the surrounding light pollution.
When looking up this morning, I felt incredibly boxed-in. I only had a small section of sky that was reasonably dark, stretching from the Constellation Cassiopeia in the Northeast to Jupiter climbing towards the South. Every other section of the night dome was problematic.
Adding to my astronomical claustrophobia, I also knew that clouds were forecasted to start rolling in around 3 to 4 a.m., though the clouds did not take hold until just after 4, when observation finally became pointless.
I saw no distinct meteors, but I may have seen two or three very faint streaks in the sky area described above. Under better conditions, I am sure I would have seen a few, or seen those clearly.
I set up my iPhone with NightCap in "Meteor Mode" and let it run for an hour. It produced over 100 images. Most were empty. Some caught "junk" either from space or from Earth i.e. planes. The planes and satellites were easy to spot as they produced regular line patterns on consecutive NightCap images (Meteor Mode takes exposures in about 4-5 second intervals). Further, most of their streaks kept to a "lane" running up/down through the center of my camera's view, equating to a nearly perpendicular West-to-East path.
Two images captured stray streaks unlike the others. They are very brief, and both of them angle from the approximate source of the Perseids in my Northeast sky. I observed neither of these as far as I can remember, but thankfully my iPhone did.
The first one is the above title card image. The second, a half hour later, is below. Both are similar in their length and intensity. And they resemble the very faint streaking I observed. All in all, I think it is safe to say these are records of some form of meteor activity.
I have no further Perseid plans for 2022, primarily due to the eminent Full Moon, which will be far more prevalent in the sky over the next two mornings. Still, at least I can say I tried, and hope for better meteor-viewing conditions in 2023, a year from now.
- iPhone XS
- NightCap App on iPhone in "Meteor Mode"