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Shoot for the stars: How & where to photograph the Orionid meteor shower near LA (Map)

Perseid meteor shower

Nathan Trail

Nathan Trail took this photo of the Perseid meteor shower over Maryland on August 12th using KPCC's tips. Try your camera out on the showers and send them to us at pix@kpcc.org.

The Orionid meteor shower will be on full display over Los Angeles this Saturday night and early Sunday morning. And if you can't leave the bright lights of the big city, look at the map below for some areas in L.A. where you should be able to see nature's light show.

And you may need to go to higher ground: The National Weather Service forecast calls for low clouds and fog Saturday night.

To capture the meteor streaked sky you'll need more than just your iPhone, so follow the instructions below to get high quality images. Then select your best shots and send them our way.

Pro Tips:

Step 1: Put down your iPhone. That little guy isn't man enough for the meteors. (Caveat: The app "Slow Shutter Cam" might work if the stars are aligned properly, so to speak.)

Step 2: Bring out your digital camera. Your best bet is a digital dSLR camera, but you can also try out your point and shoot if it has manual settings.

Step 3: Put your camera on a tripod. To get all the beautiful streaks you'll need an exposure that's at least 30 seconds long so you're camera has to be still; very, very still.

Step 4: Try to find a location that's a little further from the city. All the lights in LA will drown out those meteors and your image won't be as pretty.

Step 5: Set your exposure for at least 30 seconds. Set your camera to "B" mode if you've got it. That will let you keep your shutter open for as long as you desire.

Step 6: Set your aperture to somewhere between f2.8 and f5.6 if you're doing a 30 second exposure. The longer you want to keep your shutter open the higher you can get your f stop. If you want your shutter open for three hours then you can go up to f22.

Step 7: Set your ISO to between 100 and 400.

Step 8: Set your focus to infinity…and beyond.

Step 9: Take some test shots. Check out if you're image is under or overexposed and then adjust your aperture or shutter accordingly.

Step 10: If you have a cable release, you're going to get clear images without any motion blur. If you don't have a cable release, then press that shutter down really carefully so you don't move the camera while it's exposing the stars.

Step 11: Breathe. Relax. Take in the shower. Let that shutter stay open and don't touch the camera while it's exposing all those streaks.

Step 12: If you're on B mode then press that shutter down again really, really carefully. The longer you keep your camera exposing, the more streaks you're going to get.

How to send us your photos:

1) Use the Hashtag #KPCCmeteors on Twitter or Instagram and we'll find them.

2) Email the image to pix@kpcc.org and we'll put the best ones on our site.

Where to view the sky show:

Your best views of the annual Orionid meteor shower will be away from the bright lights of Los Angeles, and we can help you find the best spots to see the show.

According to a sky report from the Griffith Observatory, the best time to crane your neck upwards is between 11:00 p.m. Saturday and 5:40 a.m. Sunday.

In wilderness areas where light pollution is less, you can expect to see an average of 25 Orionids per hour. Those who can't trek out to places like Joshua Tree National Park or Los Padres National Forest will still be able to see the brightest meteors from suburban backyards.

The Orionids got their name from the point they seem to come from: the constellation Orion. Each meteor is a piece of comet dust from Halley's Comet, which is visible about every 75 years.

"We're seeing these meteors because the earth is crossing an ancient orbit of Halley's comet," explained Anthony Cook an astronomical sky observer at the Griffith Observatory. "We're seeing particles still stuck in that orbit that the comet shed long ago."

We've compiled a few places in the map below where you might catch a glimpse of the streaks in L.A.


View Where to see the Orionid Meteor Shower in a larger map

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