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Astrophotography

Rogge Cloof Private Sutherland Estate Photography Workshop – August 2018

Rogge Cloof Private Sutherland Estate Photography August 2018 Workshop Craig Fouché Photography in proud association with Rogge Cloof Private Sutherland Estate, an upmarket, exceptional standards establishment reserve near Sutherland, presented their first astrophotography, landscape and wildlife workshop for 2018 at Rogge Cloof Private Sutherland Estate. Here we had the opportunity to photograph the night skies, landscapes and wildlife on the reserve. My photography workshop clients came from as far as Pretoria and Cape Town to learn Milky Way and night sky photography while exploring South Africa ’s finest and darkest skies in the Upper Karoo near Sutherland – South Africa’s premier night photography destination. The group ranged from absolute novice to professional. The main thrust of the workshop was astrophotography, with landscapes and wildlife as an added extra. The weather played the game with us, and in true style, Sutherland teamed up with Jack Frost and Ice Maiden and breathed their frigid, bone-chilling atmosphere upon us. It was bitterly cold and lenses frosted up at 01h30 in the morning whilst shooting crystal clear milky way compositions! A week prior to the workshop, Sutherland had been blanketed in a canvas of white, much to my delight, as I was hoping for Milky Way images over a snow-capped landscape. Since the workshop, we have since experienced three snowfalls in the region and surrounds! Cryogenic Reflections Day 1: Arriving at Rogge Cloof Private Sutherland Estate, it was frigid, to say the least, and there were clouds about. This is the last thing you need when shooting night skies. Clouds can, however, create interesting long exposure images during night sky photography. My experience with Sutherland weather is that it is always subject to change, one moment there may be clouds, a little while later it is bound to change. I was not troubled by this and shared that with my clients. As with anything, you can plan and prepare for all scenarios, but have no control over the weather. This is something you need to accept with and be creative with what's sent your way. At the reception, we had some coffee and snacks and a lovely large fire to warm us up; each client was given a branded Craig Fouché Photography beanie for the cold nights ahead. We were introduced and briefed for the evening shoot. André of Rogge Cloof Private Sutherland Estate enthusiastically and entertainingly shared information on their wines that they have on sale. A brief wine tasting was had, and guests each bought a few bottles of wine for the cold. We had to depart timeously for our accommodation in "The Village" on the reserve, to settle in and prepare for the sunset shoot and night sky photography that lay ahead of us. Locations were pointed out, camera settings discussed, and final preparations for the night shoot were put in place.  A few lovely sunsets were captured, after which we returned for some heartwarming farm style soup made in true Karoo fashion. Sunset Planning Milky Way Planning We later made ready to shoot the Milky Way where I was on hand to assist with either light painting or advice. Day 2: The following morning I was up early, and those that wanted to join, did so, and we captured some very interesting frosty images. The sun rose and it felt as if it was getting colder as it peeped over the mountains and Salpeterkop, a now extinct volcano in the distance. Jack Frost seemed to refuse to want to relinquish his icy grip over us, and Ice Maiden sighed deeply over the landscape! Crispy, crunching, cold snapping sounds resonated under the soles of our shoes as with each step we scouted out our photographic compositions. Ice Maiden's Breath Breakfast was at 08h30 at the Pear House. After breakfast, some editing was done, where I was on hand to assist or offer advice. Some of the guests opted to explore the reserve on a morning game drive. Editing (Cell Phone Shot) Lunch was served at around 13h00 and those that wanted an afternoon nap had one. For the evening, we prepared to have dinner at the Rogge Brood restaurant at reception. Our subject shoot was one of two windmills close to reception. This had to be an early shoot as the Milky Way was rather high in the sky. We shot from shortly into golden hour until after dark. Dominique Cook, an absolute novice, astounded me with an amazing panoramic shot shoot captured at that location. After helping her set up, she photographed the windmill and decided to look in the opposite direction towards the restaurant, and capture that scene before her. Die Burger - 17 August 2018 She ended up with a truly stellar image incorporating the Milky Way; the gegenschein (which is a faintly bright spot in the night sky, around the antisolar point. The backscatter of sunlight by interplanetary dust causes this optical phenomenon); Jupiter rising with the zodiacal light and a shooting star! She later went on to submit this 18 image stitched panorama in Die Burger; a South-African, Afrikaans national newspaper who was running a competition until the end of August 2018. We await the results of this submission and have wished her the very best. This just goes to show that anyone is capable of capturing amazing images under the right guidance and instruction and allowing the person to bring their own creativity into the mix. Dominique Cook has done just that! Zodiacal Light Over Rogge Cloof - Dominique Cook ©2018   We then returned to our accommodation, where I took my clients to another windmill which has great scope for capturing reflections in the water trough. Conditions had changed, and the wind had picked up. This did not afford anyone that opportunity to be able to capture that shot which I had previously captured during my preparation for the workshop. Clouds had started to roll in too. It's Raining Stars, Rogge Cloof, Sutherland, South-Africa I had a further look at Photopills, an exceptional app for all photographers, and one that you shouldn't be without, to see where the Milky Way would be positioned for the last subject of the night: The Shepherd's Hut. It was already cold, and some were feeling that and decided to call it a night around 22h00, satisfied with the images they captured. I was prepared for a final magical Milky Way and met Kim around midnight for the final night sky shoot. By this time it was already -6ºc, and later dropped to -10ºc, the clouds had all gone! We ended finding different compositions at this spot, varying from light painting to wide panoramas. Our lenses were icing up. Icicles on my moustache were melting and forming under each breath. It was still so bone-snapping cold, in spite of me wearing seven layers clothing!! The Milky Way and Mars Over The Shepherds Hut The rewards were so worthwhile as you can see from the image above. In the end, and I am so glad we persevered through that. I crawled into bed around 02h30, to wake up at 05h00 to meet with Nigel for a blue hour shoot. Day 3: The blue hour is a special time of the day. Most people are not even aware of the blue hour, yet focus on sunset and golden hour instead. Nigel and my wife Dominique joined me for this special time of the day. Just as well as the golden hour that followed was just as special. The previous morning was an appointment with Jack Frost and Ice Maiden; this morning they were nowhere to be found. Being at the right place and the right time, seizing the moment is what it is all about. You may not have that opportunity come your way again. Blue Hour Over The Dam Cottage After shooting this scene, we explored other subjects, and I was on hand to help both Dominique and Nigel with settings and advice. Golden hour was exceptional this morning. The glowing reds and oranges of the sunkissed trees and mountainside popped and painted a whole new scene before our eyes. This was truly a magical time. Golden Hour Over The Village As quickly as it came, quickly it went, and the morning transformed into day. We met again for breakfast at 08h30, and those that wanted to leave earlier did so. The workshop was a success as you can see from the images captured. It was very cold, and that adds to the experience and the quality of the images captured. Our next workshop is being held on 9-11 November 2018, seats are already been filled. There are still slots available, book now to avoid disappointment. I would like to thank everyone who participated in the workshop, my wife Dominique for her support and managing the unseen background essentials of the workshop and for assisting me. Everyone came away with something from the workshop. To Nikon South-Africa for the loan of the Nikon D850, what game changer and superb camera body! Thank you Rogge Cloof for such a superb venue!   Book Here For The Next Workshop The next workshop runs from 9-11 November 2018, you too can learn to photograph the night skies as above. You don't even need to own a camera, there is a 20% Outdoorphoto / ODP camera gear discount voucher available to those that book. There is also a further 30% discount on offer for the printing of your images on canvas from sizes A1-A3 at Kodak SuperFoto Worcester. T&C's apply. Click now on the button to book for this exciting workshop and for more information! BOOK NOW   Dominique Cook


Astrophotography – PhotoPills – Guide To Meteor Showers in 2018

A Guide to the Best Meteor Showers in 2018: When, Where and How to Shoot Them By Rafael Pons Here is a very informative guide by the guys at PhotoPills, who, as far as I am concerned are the industry standard for astrophotography apps. All credits in this blog belong to the authors, none of these works are mine. Their guides are very helpful,so  be sure to enter your valid email address to receive one. You’re about to learn all you need to enjoy watching and shooting one of the best late-night shows served by nature: Meteor Showers. Meteors are caused by streams of cosmic debris entering the Earth's atmosphere at extremely high speeds. Smaller fragments burn in the atmosphere producing a “shooting star”, but the bigger ones can really produce an amazing big fireball. And when the space rocks (meteoroids) of the Perseids, the Geminids or any other powerful meteor shower enter Earth’s atmosphere, you’d better be ready for a great night of shooting stars. My goal with this article, using the same words that the night photography Master Lance Keimig uses in his most famous book, Night Photography and Light Painting, is to help you: "Find your way in the dark" Get the whole Meteor Showers ebook for FREE now!     Content Meteor shower calendar for 2018 Where to look or frame: the radiant? The Meteor Showers’ key information How to shoot a meteor shower Inspiring meteor shower images We’re rewarding creativity 1 Meteor shower calendar for 2018 The following table gives you all the key information about the most important and active meteor showers in 2018: Pay attention to the Moon phase percentage during the peak night. The more phase the worst conditions for the watching and shooting. As you see on the table, moonlight will be blocking the Quadrantids, Eta Aquariids, Delta Aquariids and Orionids. While, the conditions will be great for the Lyrids, Perseids, Leonids and Geminids. Finally, the table also provides both the Radiant and constellation of origin of each meteor shower to help you know where to look or frame your camera. 2 Where to look or frame: the radiant? During the meteor shower, you’ll observe that meteors radiate from one point in the night sky. This spot is called the radiant. Each radiant (the point of origin from where the meteors appear to converge) is located within or near the constellation that give the name to the meteor shower. For example, the radiant of the Geminids meteor shower is located in the constellation of Gemini, near the Castor star, one of the brightest stars in the night sky. But you don’t have to look in the direction of the meteor shower's radiant point to see the most meteors. Meteors can appear in all parts of the sky. If you decide to introduce the radiant point in your frame and trace the path of the meteors backwards, you’ll realize that all meteors appear to converge to one single spot in the sky. In this case, if you're lucky enough to capture many meteors, you can create a stunning effect by using the technique described in this video by David Kingham for image post-processing. By using David’s technique, Antoni Cladera (aka, the Photographer) could built the awesome cover image of this article. I love this effect. How can you locate the radiant? The position of the radiant in the sky is defined by two coordinates: Right Ascension and Declination. Declination is the vertical angular distance between the center of a celestial body and the celestial equator. A declination of +20º means that the celestial body is located 20º north of the celestial equator. The south polar cap is at a declination of –90º, the equator is at declination 0º, and the north polar cap is at a declination of +90º. Declination is to a celestial globe as latitude is to a terrestrial globe, a vertical positioning of an object. Right Ascension is the angular distance measured eastward along the celestial equator between the vernal equinox and the celestial body. Together with Declination, it defines a position of a celestial body in the sky. It is measured in hours (1h equals to 15º), minutes and seconds. Yes, I know, both coordinates have horrible names and even worse definitions. The good news is that you don’t need to understand the theory to use PhotoPills’ Night Augmented Reality tool to locate the exact position of the radiant in the sky given by Right Ascension and Declination. Take a look at the following video to learn how to do it. We help you locate the radiant of the Perseids (Right ascension 3h 4m, Declination +58º). It’s easier that it seems, I promise ;) Once you’ve located the radiant in the sky for both the beginning and the end of the shooting, you’ll know exactly the path the radiant will follow. Then, you'll be able to frame at the right area of the sky to create an image with the same effect than David Kingham's. 3 The Meteor Showers’ key information The Quadrantids, January 1-6 The Quadrantids, well known for their bright fireball meteors, which produce larger explosions of light and color, are also known to be tricky. With a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) reaching 120 meteors per hour, the Quadrantids could be the most powerful shower of the year. But it turns out that the peak only lasts a few hours, which makes it difficult to catch. The shower runs from January 1 to 6. The best night for the watching is the one between the 3 and 4. The Peak has been predicted for January 3 at 20h UTC. This is not a good year for the Quadrantids, the Moon, with a phase of 98%, will block the stars. Unfortunately, this meteor shower is only visible from the northern hemisphere. These meteors are not visible from the southern hemisphere. Highlights: When: January 1-6 2018 Best night: January 3-4 Peak: January 3 at 20h UTC Moon Phase: 98% (poor viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): 120 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 42 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Boötes Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 15h 28m, Declination +49.5º Associated Asteroid: 2003 EH1 Northern Hemisphere: Medium rate Southern Hemisphere: Not visible The Lyrids, April 16-25 With a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of just 20 meteors per hour, the Lyrids is an average shower. It runs from April 16 to 25. The best night for the watching is the one between the 22 and 23. The Peak has been predicted for April 22 at 18h UTC. This year, the crescent Moon will allow us to enjoy the show. This meteor shower is visible from both hemispheres. Although it’s weaker in the southern hemisphere. Highlights: When: April 16-25  2018 Best night: April 22-23 Peak: April 22 at 18h UTC Moon Phase: 38% (good viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +20 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 48 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Lyra Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 18h 08m, Declination +32º Associated Comet: C/1861 G1 Thatcher (comet discovered in 1861) Northern Hemisphere: Medium rate Southern Hemisphere: Low rate Eta Aquariids, April 19 to May 28 The Eta Aquariids is known for its high percentage of persistent trains, but few fireballs. It’s usually a very active meteor shower when viewed from the southern tropics. Its Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) is 55 meteors per hour, but it gets down to 10-30 from the equator northward. It runs from April 19 to May 25. The best night for the watching is the one between May 6 and 7. The Peak has been predicted for May 6 at 8h UTC. Trying the night before and after is also a great idea. The Moon, with a phase of 61%, will be an issue this year. It might block part of the meteors. So, use PhotoPills to check the time the moon will set in your location and get ready for the show. You never know what can happen! The meteor shower is best visible from the southern hemisphere. It’s also visible from the northern hemisphere but at a lower rate. Highlights: When: April 19 to May 28  2018 Best night: May 6-7 Peak: May 6 at 8h UTC Moon Phase: 61% (poor viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +55 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 66 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Aquarius Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 22h 32m, Declination -1º Associated Comet: 1P Halley Northern Hemisphere: Medium rate Southern Hemisphere: Good rate Delta Aquariids. July 12 to August 23 As it happens with the Eta Aquariids, it’s better to watch this shower from the southern tropics. With a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of 20 meteors per hour, do not expect to see many meteors. It runs from July 12 to August 23. The best night for the watching is the one between July 29 and 30. The Peak has been predicted for July 30 at 11h UTC. This is not a good ear for the Eta Aquariids, the Moon, with a phase of 96%, will block the stars. The meteor shower is best visible from the southern hemisphere. But it’s also also visible from the northern hemisphere but at a lower rate. Highlights: When: July 12 to August 23 2018 Best night: July 29-30 Peak: July 30 at 11h UTC Moon Phase: 96% (poor viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +20 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 42 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Aquarius Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 22h 40m, Declination -16.4º Associated Comet: Unknown, 96P Machholz suspected Northern Hemisphere: Medium rate Southern Hemisphere: Good rate The Perseids, July 17 to August 24 The Perseids is considered to be the best meteor shower of the year. With a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of above 100 meteors per hour, the night of the peak is usually epic. It runs from July 17 to August 24. This year, the best night for the watching is the one between the 12 and 13 of August. The Peak has been predicted for August 13 at 01h UTC. It’s a good idea to give it a try also the nights between the 11-12 and 13-14. The moon, with a phase of 3%, will give us the opportunity to enjoy a big show. The meteor shower is visible and intense in both hemispheres. Highlights: When: July 17 to August 24 2018 Best night: August 12-13 Peak: August 13 at 01h UTC Moon Phase: 3% (good viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +100 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 60 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Perseus Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 03h 04m, Declination +58º Associated Comet: 109P/Swift-Tuttle (comet discovered in 1862) Northern Hemisphere: High rate Southern Hemisphere: High rate The Orionids, October 4 to November 14 The Orionids are associated to the comet 1P/Halley, the same that’s associated to the Eta Aquariids in May. It’s an average shower with a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of just 20 meteors per hour. It runs from October 4 to November 14. The best night for the watching is the one between the 21 and 22 of October. The Peak has been predicted for October 22 at 03h UTC. Unfortunately, the moon, with a phase of 91%, will block the stars. The meteor shower is visible in both hemispheres. Highlights: When: October 4 to November 14 2018 Best night: October 21-22 Peak: October 28 at 03h UTC Moon Phase: 91% (poor viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +20 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 66 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Orion Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 06h 20m, Declination +15.5º Associated Comet: 1P/Halley Northern Hemisphere: Low rate Southern Hemisphere: Low rate The Leonids, November 5 to 30 The Leonids has a peak above 100 meteors/hour every 33 years. The last great peak occurred in 2001, so we’ll have to wait until 2034! Usually, It’s an average shower with a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of just 15 meteors per hour. It runs from November 5 to 30. The best night for the watching is the one between the 17 and 18 of November. The Peak has been predicted for November 17 at 23h UTC. The Moon, with a phase of 62%, will be an issue this year. It might block part of the meteors. So, use PhotoPills to check the time the Moon will set in your location and get ready for the show. The meteor shower should be visible in both hemispheres. Highlights: When: November 5 to 30 2018 Best night: November 17-18 Peak: November 17 at 23h UTC Moon Phase: 62% (good viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +15 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 71 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Leo Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 10h 08m, Declination +21.6º Associated Comet: 55P/Tempel-Tuttle Northern Hemisphere: Low rate Southern Hemisphere: Low rate The Geminids, December 4 to 16 For many astronomers, the Geminids is considered to be the queen of the meteor showers. The comet 3200 Phaethon is the cause of this meteor shower. With a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of +120 meteors per hour, you can expect to see a good number of bright meteors. It runs from December 4 to 16. The best night for the watching is the one between the 13 and 14. The Peak has been predicted for December 14 at 13h UTC. This year, the waxing crescent Moon will not be a problem for the watching. Use PhotoPills to check the rise and set times, and choose the best time for the shooting. It’s visible from both hemispheres. Although it’s weaker in the southern hemisphere. Highlights: When: December 4 to 16 2018 Best night: December 13-14 Peak: December 14 at 13h UTC Moon Phase: 35% (good viewing conditions) Number (ZHR): +120 Meteors/hour Meteors velocity: 35 km/s Origin (radiant): constellation Gemini Radiant coordinates: Right Ascension 07h 28m, Declination +32.2º Associated Asteroid: 3200 Phaethon (discovered in 1982) Northern Hemisphere: High rate Southern Hemisphere: Medium rate 4 How to shoot a meteor shower In case you plan a night scape to shoot one of the meteor showers, the following recommendations will help you get started with the shooting: Location: Go into an area with little light pollution. Framing: Make sure you’re framing the right area in the sky. You can use PhotoPills’ Night Augmented Reality tool to locate the radiant of the meteor shower. Focal length: Use the widest angle lens possible (at least 14mm) to capture the most area of the sky. Aperture: Use a fast lens to collect as much light as possible. An aperture of f/2.8 is great. Focusing: Focus at the hyperfocal distance. Make sure you’re not focusing at a shorter distance, because you’ll get stars completely blurred, even if you miss it by one inch (2.5cm). It’s much better to make focus exceeding the hyperfocal distance by 2 feet rather than falling short. You can calculate the hyperfocal distance with our on-line Depth of Field calculator. Also, learn all you need to know about hyperfocal distance and depth of field with our extremely detailed DoF Guide. ISO: Set the ISO to the maximum level that your camera allows without getting excessive noise (ISO 1600 or higher is recommended). Exposure time: Use PhotoPills' on-line Spot Stars calculator to calculate the maximum exposure time to get stars as bright spots. Usually, you’ll get a value between 20 and 35 seconds, depending on the camera and lens used. White Balance: With no light pollution, I recommend you to use a WB between 3,400K and 4,000K. Interval: Use a shooting interval between 2 and 5 seconds to try to capture the maximum amount of meteors.    Regarding the equipment, in Step 7 of our tutorial “How to Shoot Truly Contagious Milky Way Pictures”, you’ll find all you need no matter your level of expertise or budget. Make sure to take a look at it. But, knowing the camera, lens and tripod you’ll need is only the beginning. I recommend you to also bring with you at least one heater strip to fight dew back! One of the most annoying aspects of night photography is dealing with dew. Moisture in the air can condense on the cold front surface of your lens, and ruin the photos. Getting a heater strip is a great way to save the night. The good news is that heater strips are very cheap (see again “Equipment against moisture” in step 7). Perhaps, the two most popular heater strip brands are Dew-Not and Kendrick. I use a Dew-Not 3" DN004, which perfectly fits my Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8. This model has a length of 13" (33cm), enough for the diameter of the lens. Make sure you buy a strip that can go around the entire circumference of the lens. You’ll also need a portable battery and a cable connector.   Dew heater Dew-Not 3" DN004 connected to a portable battery. Need more help? Take a look at our articles How To Shoot Truly Contagious Milky Way Pictures and The Definitve Guide to Shooting Hipnotic Star Trails. You'll learn everything you need to imagine, plan and shoot stunning photos of the stars. And if you wish to learn face to face with us, the whole PhotoPills Team, along with a selected group of photography masters, don't miss the PhotoPills Camp! 5 Inspiring meteor shower images From stacking a great number of photos to create David Kingham’s effect or a powerful star trails image, to putting together a timelapse video, spending the whole night shooting a meteor shower can be very productive from the creative side. The following images and videos are the outcome of the Geminids Meteor shower in 2015. It was on Monday, December 14 2015, around 10pm local time, when the clouds disappeared from above our heads, leaving us face to face with one of the most active meteor showers we remember. We spent the next 5 hours shooting and enjoying the show. What an epic time! Timelapse The timelapse is the result of playing 647 still images at 24fps. Nikon D4s | 14mm | f2.8 | 30s | 5000 ISO Star trails   Staking of 647 photos. Nikon D4s | 14mm | f2.8 | 30s | 5000 ISO You can create stunning star trails by merging a series of short exposure photos into a single image using softwares like StarStaX (Mac, Windows, Linux) or Startrails (Windows). Meteor Exploding Who has seen the explosion of a meteor in the sky? We did! And with a smoky tail :) You never know what your camera will capture during the night. Each night scape is a different adventure. Converging Meteors   Nikon D4s | 14mm | f2.8 | 30s | 5000 ISO The image is the result of stacking 120 photos using David Kingham’s technique. To create this stunning effect, every photo has been rotated around Polaris to keep the radiant point of the meteor shower in the same place. This proves that all meteors appear to converge from one single point in the sky: the radiant.   Happy Showers! All photos in this articles have been taken by Antoni Cladera.  Newsletter Please subscribe me to your newsletter informing me of all new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe


The Eight Major Meteor Showers Coming to South Africa in 2018

The Eight Major Meteor Showers Coming to South Africa in 2018 If you enjoyed Geminids this month, this will be right up your street, here are the eight major meteor showers coming to South Africa in 2018. By Tom Head   Image Credits: Pixabay / Pexels There is something so tangibly beautiful about meteor showers. They are a reminder of just how magnificent our universe is, illuminating our night skies as part of a breathtaking cosmic ballet. We all enjoyed the Geminids shower that lit up the darkness this month, so we got to thinking: When will we see something like this again? We come bearing good news… There are eight major meteor showers coming our way in 2018. So if you’re an old romantic, or a long-time stargazer, you’re going to have to make some plans for the new year. There are some stunning shows on their way to us from across the galaxy. Put the smartphone down, and treat yourself to something truly special. Meteor showers in South Africa 1. Quadrantids Meteor Shower, January 2018 When? Quadrantids wastes little time in christening 2018 with a beautiful display of shooting stars. From the 1st – 5th January, the shower will be visible from South Africa. The peak date will be Wednesday 3rd January. Meteors per hour? You can spot around 40 an hour during its peak phase Visibility? Not great. The Full Moon on the night on the 1st and 2nd of January will make for a brighter night sky, drowning out up to 80 percent of visible meteors. You have a fighting chance on the third though, as the moon dulls and Earth moves closer to the shower itself. 2. Lyrids Meteor Shower, April 2018 When? This is an annual shower that runs between 16th – 25th April. The night of the 22nd going into the morning of the 23rd will be your peak viewing time. Meteors per hour? This is a more reserved shower, and around 20 meteors can be spotted within a sixty-minute period. Visibility? It’s a good forecast. There will only be a ‘quarter-moon’ in the sky during the peak viewing hours. When that sets, it will leave a dark sky to compliment the bright dust trails flying off the meteors. 3. Eta Aquarids, May 2018 When? The first signs of this shower come during Lyrids, on the 18th April. Meteors from Eta Aquarids have been spotted as late as the 29th May. However, their peak date will be the 6th May, going into the early hours of the 7th. Meteors per hour? This year it’s likely to be just 30 an hour, but can peak to 60. Visibility? The further south you are, the more likely you’ll see it. A “waning gibbous Moon” will already be illuminating the sky, reducing visibility from its normal level. We have it on good authority from Seasky that there should be ‘a few good ones’ that are easy to spot. 4. South Delta Aquarids, July 2018 When? The shower runs on a six-week cycle every year, from 12th July – 23rd August. The peak night for viewing will be the 28th July, through to the 29th. Meteors per hour? A steady rate of 20 an hour should keep the stargazers busy Visibility?   A full moon is threatening to limit what can be seen from space. However, the South Delta Aquarids is an incredibly bright offering, so you should still be able to see one of the best shows of the year. 5. Perseids Meteor Shower, August 2018 When? From the 17th July – 24th August, one of the best known meteor showers passes across Earth. It’s the 12th August when the night sky really lights up, though. Meteors per hour? It’s the event that perhaps provides the most value for your time invested. Up to 60 meteors can be spotted within an hour. Visibility? There’s a thin crescent moon which means visibility is excellent! 6. Orionids, October 2018 When? It goes from the 2nd October – 9th November, and the 21st October in the night to see this shower hit its peak. Meteors per hour? It can produce up to 20 visible meteors an hour, but these are all quite special. The meteors are all fragments of Haley’s comet, the cosmic marvel that appears in our skies once every 77 years. Visibility? Bad news, full moon. Great news is that Orionids is the brightest shower on the list. No matter what the moon is doing, nothing will stop us getting a good eye-full here. 7. Leonidis Meteor Shower, November 2018 When? This has a shorted run than most showers, but is no less spectacular. Leonidis is visible from the 6th – 30th November, reaching its peak on the 17th November. Meteors per hour? These meteors have a cyclic peak of 33 years, the last of which was reached in 2001. Although it will be a stronger display than 2017, there is still some way to go before it takes over the night sky again. Having said that, a fair 15 meteors an hour can be spotted on a dark evening. Visibility? The moon is setting early on the 17th, so any time after midnight will provide you with a dark background. This will be one of the clearer nights on the calendar 8. Geminids Meteor Shower, December 2018 When? Rounding off our list of meteor showers is Geminids. We were all treated to something spectacular this month. In fact, it was so good, Geminids has agreed to come back again next year. And the year after. And the year after. It’s an annual event, set to peak on December 13th next year. Meteors per hour? 120 an hour. There’s a reason we all lost our minds over this one. It’s the most breathtaking offering you can get from watching the stars, and next year will be no different. Visibility? We’ve got a good set up for Geminids 2018. A few South Africans were robbed this year when cloudy skies blocked their views, but everything should be going our way next December. Only a quarter-moon will be in the sky. We can’t wait another year! Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe


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