Quadrantids 2018: How to photograph the meteor shower – 11 top tips  | Science | News

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The Quadrantid meteor shower will peak tonight (January 3) and coincides with the closest and largest full moon of the year – the Full Wolf Moon.

The supermoon reached its peak this week and the moonlight is likely to outshine all but the brightest Quadrantids.

The shower is expected to peak at 4pm EST (9pm GMT) tonight, according to EarthSky.org.

The best time for skywatchers to look for the Quadrantids will be overnight on January 3 into January 4, with the most meteors visible in the last hour before dawn.

Binoculars and telescopes will not be useful for the meteor showers, as the naked eye will be enough to see the shooting stars overhead.

Here are eleven top tips if you want to photograph the meteors tonight. 

How to photograph the Quadrantids meteor shower

To shoot the Quadrantids meteor shower, you will need a DSLR camera and a lens. It is recommended that your camera is mounted on a tripod to help you point it at the correct point of the sky.

1. Go to somewhere dark, away from the pollution of city lights. 

2. Use a wide-angle lens to photograph a meteor shower which will cover a large area of the night sky, however there is a risk that meteor trails through wide-angle lens can look tiny and unimpressive. A shorter focal length lens will cover more sky area and increase your chances of catching something. 

3. Set the camera and lens to manual focus (M or MF) and pre-focused at infinity. Focus on the brightest star or planet in the sky with Live View magnified to 10x and carefully focus on the rear screen as accurately as you can.

4. For meteor photography, open the lens fully by selecting the lowest f-number and if you have choices of lens of similar focal lengths, select the one that gives you the lowest f-number. 

5. Set the ISO setting high. If your camera goes up to a top value of ISO6400, then select either ISO1600 or IS03200. If the top value is higher, then ISO6400 or ISO8000 are good values to go for. An ISO setting around half or a quarter of the top value is a good option.

6. Set the camera to manual exposure mode and take a series of test exposures at 10, 15 and 30 seconds.

Go for continuous shooting mode so the camera keeps taking lots of pictures when you press the button. A shutter release cable is essential for this type of photography.

7. Use Raw file formate (or Raw and JPEG). Raw formate allows you to adjust the colour balance much better than the automatic settings saved in JPEG images.

8. Shooting a custom white balance on the sky itself to remove light pollution.

9. Turn off Long-Exposure Noise Reduction (LENR) if your camera has this setting.

10. Aim your camera straight up – this will probably be the darkest part of the sky.

11. Have extra storage cards and spare camera batteries with you, just in case. 

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