This crazy plan of ours had been in the making for a few days. It wasn't until the day before that we heard of the Perseid meteor shower and it was due to happen during our night in the Peak District, what amazing luck! Neither of us had witnessed a meteor shower before, let alone attempted to photograph it. Too add an extra layer of difficulty, the camera battery had to last until the morning so we couldn't run it flat trying to capture shooting stars.
We left Sheffield and drove to Middleton Top visitor centre. It's home to an old engine room with a large chimney, not the most aesthetic location in the book by any means, but shot at night with a clear sky, it can be absolutely fantastic. We spent the first 10 minutes acclimatising our eyes to the dark sky, there were quite a lot of people there watching the meteor shower, it was a great atmosphere. Finding and fine-tuning compositions in the dark is hard enough as it is, so too is focusing. It was made much harder trying to do this without using a bright torch, we didn't want to annoy the other people around us and have to re-adjust our eyes so we ended up using a red-light head torch, not ideal but it was better than nothing.
We had already seen about 15 shooting stars by the time we got the camera set up. We couldn't get into the field which faced the Perseus constellation because of a very scary looking bull, this made capturing the shooting stars a little bit harder as we were facing a different part of the sky. After a bit of trial and error we started capturing some of the meteors on the camera, they were only faint but you could definitely see them. We had already missed quite a few due to bad luck with activating the shutter, all of a sudden a really bright meteor raced through the atmosphere followed a second later by a smaller faint one. Did we have the shutter open at the time? YES! This was the shot we captured:
We are so pleased with this image, not only are there two trails in the image you can also see a bit of the Milky Way, it would have been even more prominent if the moon hadn't been in the sky. At this point we stopped taking photos in an effort to preserve power, we were about half way through our plan but already only had 30% battery remaining.
Next up was Wirksworth StarDisc, location number 61. We thought it might be busy because of the meteor shower and it was. There was music, a bar, food, lights and lots of people. It was such a great evening, everyone was enjoying the show in the sky. As the time got to about 2 a.m we were nearly the only ones remaining. We took some shots of Grace and some shots of the disc. Aidan Shingler, the creator of the StarDisc stayed with us, he was such a kind and generous man, he even offered us his house as a place to sleep. These are the shots we got at Wirksworth:
We left Wirksworth StarDisc at about 3 a.m and drove to our sunrise location, it was only half an hour away which meant we could grab an hours sleep in the car. Through the night I think we must have seen well over 100 shooting stars, it was an incredible experience and one neither of us will forget. The next location was one I was looking forward to, it turned out to be bitterly disappointing but so much so that all we could do was laugh it off.
To be continued.