Perseid Meteor Shower

As it was a clear evening I decided to head up the Sea to Sky highway (which runs from Vancouver to Whistler) to Porteau Cove Provincial Park, a small park on the edge of the Howe Sound with a ferry terminal (only used if a landslide closes the road). This is probably the darkest sky within a thirty minute drive of Vancouver.

Expecting to be the only one crazy enough to go out the night after the peak of the meteor showers, and on a Sunday, I was therefore rather surprised when I found the car park, and the park, full of other people who had very similar ideas. As well as several families and a few photographers, there were three huge telescopes!

Unfortunately the clear weather we’d had through the day didn’t last, and about thirty minutes after I’d arrived a thin layer of cloud had almost completely blocked out the stars. Fortunately this moved over after about an hour, and although the clarity of the stars wasn’t as good as I’d have liked, it was possible to see the Milky Way, as well as many meteors.

This shot was taken from a viewpoint on the ferry dock looking north. The glow in the sky at the bottom of the photo is from the town of Squamish, and you can still clearly see some wisps of cloud. At the base of the hills to the right is the Sea to Sky highway, lit up by traffic. On the right hand side of the sky, the Milky Way is clearly visible.

The meteor trail was one of the brightest seen all night, and I was really pleased to get it — when the shutter was open, I thought it had probably passed out of frame as it went across the sky, but fortunately I captured it all.

This was taken using the Sigma 10–20mm super-wide angle lens at 10mm, and is a combination of two photographs. The first one was taken at f/4.0, ISO 3200 for 60 seconds, to capture as many stars as possible without introducing too much motion from the earth’s rotation, as well as to capture any meteor streaks as brightly as possible. The second was taken at f/4.0, ISO 800 for 10 minutes, to capture the hills, traffic and water with less noise. The two were blended together in Photoshop.

This shot was at the absolute limit of my camera and equipment, and the resultant starfield has had to have a lot of noise processing done to it — even now there is still noticeable banding, particularly on the left side.

howe sound night sky
Lens Camera