It’s a gorgeous image with a great story, which is why Pierre Martin’s picture of the 2021 Perseid meteor surge takes the Photo of the Week title for September 24, 2021.
Martin said this year’s Perseid meteor shower was an especially strong one, and evidence shows it was one of the most prolific in years.
“I was one of only a few observers worldwide fortunate to be in the right place and time to see the strongest surge of Perseids since 2016!” he wrote. “My data was used by the meteor community, first in IAU CBET No. 5016 and now as part of a more detailed analysis.”
He noted the traditional way of visual meteor observing — just sitting back at a dark sky site and doing counts, “something that I continue to enjoy to this day” — is still useful in an age of automated video cameras and radar methods.
“It appears that I was the visual observer with the most ideal sky conditions and position to see the sharp outburst (with a ZHR over 200, perhaps even as high as 250+ during brief times) while the radiant was high overhead,” he wrote. “Taking unguided photos also served in helping to determine the time of peak activity.”
He said this lead him to many hours of data analyzing, crunching numbers and processing/editing hundreds of photos over the course of a few weeks.
“In my 30 years of looking at meteor showers, this was the strongest Perseids rates that I’ve ever seen,” he said. “More importantly, there was a quick collaboration between the amateur and professional astronomical community.”
He noted his work has been published in articles by Meteor News here and here, as well as in an International Astronomical Union Central Bureau Electronic Telegram (CBET) found here. Martin also submitted an observing report to the International Meteor Organization, which can be found here.
Photographing near Westmeath, Ontario, Martin said the composite image of 282 Perseids captured between 06:50 UT (2:50 a.m. EDT) and 09:00 UT (5:00 a.m. EDT) on the night of August 13-14, 2021.
“364 continuous exposures were made, of which 282 meteors were found and digitally combined into this image,” he said, adding that a few additional Perseids were found but are not included here due to sky rotation. “Sporadics and other minor shower meteors are not included.
Martin said he used a Canon 6D with a Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens at ISO 6400 to capture 20-second exposures. The setup was mounted on tripod unguided.
Our honourable mention this week goes to Stuart Heggie for this beautiful image of IC 5134 and the associated star cluster NGC 7129, with one of our judges specifically noting the Hydrogen-alpha ring in the core of the nebula.
“The red portions in this image are Herbig-Haro objects, which have been excited to emit in hydrogen alpha by energetic jets emitted by young stars within the nebula,” Heggie wrote.
Heggie shot the image from Lucknow, Ontario, in August 2021. Using an Apogee U16M camera on a Planewave 12.5″ CDK (f/8), he captured 33 10-minute luminance subs and 10 10-minute subs in red, 15 10-minute subs in green and 15 10-minute subs in blue. Total integration time was 12 hours and 10 minutes.
Every week, SkyNews publishes the best image from among those sent in by readers from all across Canada. Whether you’re an expert or a beginner at night sky photography, we’re looking for your pictures! Enter today for your chance to win a Photo of the Week title and one of our annual prizes!
Prizes for the 2021-22 SkyNews Photo of the Week contest are sponsored by Sky-Watcher, Celestron, iOptron, The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and SkyNews. Find out more about the amazing telescopes, prize packages and gift vouchers awarded to the best photos this year.