Skip to main content

The Orionids: Photographing Shooting Stars

The Orionid meteor shower, usually shortened to the Orionids, is the most prolific meteor shower associated with Halley's Comet. The Orionids are so-called because the point they appear to come from, called the radiant, lies in the constellation Orion. Orionids are an annual meteor shower which last approximately one week in late-October. In some years, meteors may occur at rates of 50-70 per hour.  (text Credit Wikipedia)

Starting on October 15 and ending on October 29, with the peak generally occurring during the morning hours of October 20-22. 

How you can be ready!

Photographing meteors


1. Wide fast lens
More light = more stars (and shooting stars).

2.  High (but workable) ISO
Look at number 1.  Make sure it’s not too “Noisy”

3. Long Exposure (will vary depending on several things)
You will be exposing your image anywhere from a few seconds to perhaps even an hour depending on the style you’re going for. 
*see below for two styles explained*

4. Dress for the weather
There is nothing worse than being cold or wet when trying to capture that perfect shot.  Remember that you can always take clothes off if you are too hot.

5. Pre Scout location during day (safety reasons)
Fumbling around in the dark will get you injured or even worse.  Don’t take chances!  Know your surroundings and set up in the light.

6. Know the sky (where meteors will come from)
Any photographer (or hack with a camera) worth their salt will tell you that knowing your subject is one of the most important things about photography.  This also holds true for shooting celestial events.  The nice thing about the night sky is that once you know it, it doesn’t really change that much.

7. Focus manually using “live view” or pre focus(turn off auto focus)
Auto focus will not work at night.  If you have live view it will help you to get that perfect focus on the stars.

8. Have patience
You may fail!

9. Have fun
Do not let number 8 get you down, it happens!

10. Know your equipment and conditions.
Depending on the atmosphere and weather, you may find things going on that you aren’t use to happening.  Your lens may fog up (this can be prevented using hand warmers and an elastic band to hold it in place).  You may find your camera getting wet from rain (plastic bags help here).  There are many tricks that you can use, and many of them can be found online.

If you follow these 10 guidelines you will increase your odds of having a successful session.

*Shooting Styles*

Pinpoint Stars

This is where you’ll see the stars as they appear to you when you look up in the night sky.  Depending on your preference, this is the style that you may choose.
You may choose to have a single meteor streaking from the radiant, or you may choose to use a method that I will explain in a later post that will use several images to form a composite showing several meteors streaking from the radiant of the shower.  If done well, it will be a very striking image.

Settings for shooting these images are identical to shooting the Milky Way.
Remember the 600 rule.  And perhaps even take a few test shots to make sure you got it right in camera first.  It will be a much better image if you have framed an interesting shot with a good foreground interest.

Set the intervalometer if you have one, to take several photos in succession.
You will most likely have to move the camera once in a while to keep the radiant of the shower framed how you want it (the earth rotates, which will move the stars in your framing).  Shoot like this until you have (hopefully) a few images of “shooting stars”.

Star Trails

You can follow my tutorial on star trails to capture an image this way.

This too can produce a stunning image so really it’s up to you how you choose.
If you have any questions feel free to ask. 

Click here to go to the second post in the series

Click here to go to the third post in the series

Click here to go to the fourth post in the series


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

How to Make the Stars POP!

If there is one thing I've learned about processing night shots.

There are as many opinions and as many ways to do things as there have been sunrises! With that being said, I thought I'd share another technique that I've employed a couple of times

This technique is very simple and very effective.  The nice thing about my tutorial is that I show you how to do it yourself.  I’m not a fan of “presets” that take the adjustment factor out of your hands.  I’d rather show someone how to do it for themselves.  That way you can actually expand your knowledge and learn to help yourself and others around you.

In this particular “How to” we will be increasing the size and brightness of the larger stars.  This technique can also be used to bring out the natural colour of the stars or any other adjustments you may want to use.

Like most of my tutorials, I take the approach that you have a basic knowledge of photoshop.  If you don’t and need some further assistance with this tutorial, please…

How to Reduce Star Trails

600/(18x1.5)= &%*@!*$

So, you either didn't follow the 600 rule, you're bad at math, or you made a mistake! Now you've got a shot that you absolutely love but the stars look like eggs, or worse yet, they are mini trails!
Don't scrap that photo without at least trying this little know trick of the trade.
In this tutorial I will teach you how to remove small trails to make your stars look crisper.
****  Does it always work??  Nope ****
But heck, why not at least give it a go before deleting that photo.
The Original Image
Here is my original image opened in Photoshop.  You will notice that the stars look like mini trails. This particular image was exposed for 43 seconds (23 seconds longer than I usually expose an image).

The Original Image Magnified
Here you will notice how the stars are trails and not as crisp as they should be. Normally most people would throw this image out.

Stars Layer Selection
Start off by selecting the sky.  I used the marquee tool but you can use an…

Make Stellarium More Realistic when planning for a night shot

**Article by Darryl Van Gaal
As both a landscape, and deep space astrophotographer I find myself using Stellarium ( on a weekly basis.  It's a great (free) program and in my opinion is one of the best out there competing with programs that cost hundreds of dollars.

I like it for the ease of use along with the reality of the night sky.  If you use the right settings, the sky you see in Stellarium is strikingly similar to the sky you'll see when you look out your door.

Like I said, I do believe that it is an easy program to learn the ins and outs of,  BUT, like anything, there is still a learning curve.

I've posted about Stellarium in the past ( ) teaching you how to simulate your cameras field of view with a particular lens on it.  Which is aid in planning photography outings.

This post is similar as it will teach you how you can use it to help you get a feeling as to what you&…