Visibly different, part 22

great blue heron Ardea herodias in Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
We hie back to 1990 for this one, one of the few rolls of negatives that I have from when I lived in central New York – a few months after this photo, I would pack my meager belongings into a small rental van and move to North Carolina. But before that, I took a drive through Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, armed with my trusty (not really) little Wittnauer Challenger, my first 35mm camera. It was a rangefinder with a fixed 50mm lens, so while it counts as 35mm, it wasn’t an SLR with interchangeable lenses, more of a tourist camera. But it’s what I had.

With the possible exception of a really distant frame, this is the first photo I have of a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) – more the shortcomings of the camera than anything else, since the refuge was and is a great place to see wildlife up close, though it should be noted that I wasn’t making much effort at that time either. I was glad to see one so close to the drive, able to be photographed out the window of my car, but all this provided was enough proof to identify the species correctly.

We’ll do an interim stop now, in 2004.

close profile of great blue heron Ardea herodias, Indian River Lagoon
great blue heron Ardea herodias by author's bicycle, Indian River LagoonHerons can be found all over the US, but Florida is the only place I’ve found them so habituated to people that they allow ridiculously close approaches. Both images here were taken with the borrowed Sony F717, with a maximum focal length equivalent of 190mm – which doesn’t mean a lot anymore, but about 4x the Wittnauer’s lens. That would have been nowhere near enough to make this much difference, so the primary improvement came from the bird itself, and I included a wider-angle shot showing my bike – the heron really was close. A lot of fisherfolk in Florida use live bait, which herons have learned they can steal, so they’re often in close proximity if the pickings look good. On another day, in the same location, I snagged this shot.

So where do we find ourselves now?

great blue heron Ardea herodias reacting to perfidy
Well, I can’t vouch for you, but I’m back in North Carolina, where the herons aren’t so blasé about close approaches. This time (2019) I was using the Tamron 150-600 at 600mm, but the 7D has a ‘digital multiplier’ of 1.6 over a 35mm frame, so roughly 960mm, or 19x the Wittnauer’s lens, and this is even cropped closer – had I used this lens in the same circumstances as the first image above, you can bet it would have been a lot tighter, similar to the second image.

And most of the credit goes to the equipment here – but not all. On an outing with a student along Jordan Lake, we’d seen the heron fly off from another location and tracked it visually until it alighted in a tree, conveniently close to our path ahead. So we stalked it, taking our time, staying very quiet, and firing off frames as we approached. Eventually, this brought us close enough for decent portraits, even horrified-looking ones, and I’m comfortable saying that most people would have scared the heron off long before this proximity, just from approaching in a typical human fashion. Even if they hadn’t, it still may have gone unnoticed because it was remaining still and quiet, and you can see that it was blending into the trunk and foliage – easy to miss, unless you’re looking closely. And of course, up, which many people never do.

Another, because.

great blue heron Ardea herodias with channel catfish Ictalurus puntatus in its beak
Same lens, and cropped a bit tighter again too, but this time it’s Duke Forest in NC, last year. Two more things to credit: spotting it before getting too close, and the impending meal held in the heron’s beak – there’s a whole sequence here, in case you missed it. Herons with food, or even the imminent potential of such, tend to change their standards of what constitutes a ‘hazard,’ ignoring all but very close approaches. It still required remaining quiet and as motionless as possible, plus a lot of patience as the heron juggled the meal for a ridiculously long time, but a fish this size has to be lined up precisely to get down that gullet whole.

All that said, great blue herons are much more tolerant of approaches than green herons, and way more than kingfishers, so if you’re going to get close to something, it’s more likely a heron – I have hundreds of photos of the species, and I couldn’t even tell you how many I’ve posted here, but at least a few a year. So great accomplishments? Not especially. But it’s still nice to compare them to the start.

Meanwhile, this is probably the best photo of a channel catfish that I’ve gotten. So far.

May ain’t over yet

Because we haven’t had the month end abstract, have we? Okay, then…

pair of basking turtles against clear blue
This one was of course instantly in the running, and I purposefully shot it to enhance this effect, going as wide as possible. The little inlet of Jordan Lake was remarkably still, especially for late morning, and the light angle worked for it, so here we are. It helped that I was on a bridge that provided a downward angle.

But May always deserves another because, you know, May.

cluster of bright pink rhododendrons
This might seem like an easy one, but it’s rare that I find a cluster of flowers (The Girlfriend tells me these are rhododendrons) at the peak of blooming, this distinctly geometrical, and without any blemishes or boogies to mar the frame; add in the soft shade to keep the subtleties of the colors, and this is what you get. Plus the color complements the previous image nicely.

At the time that this posts, I’ll be evaluating the vague predictions for the Tau Herculid meteor shower – unless the weather goes to pot, but there is no prediction of that. And as I type this I realize how silly that sounds…

Not bright, but cute

I was out in the backyard doing gardening today, because I know how to rock a holiday weekend, and noticed one of the green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea) tucked under the wing of the decorative heron near the hosta plants. This is quite common anymore and I just routinely check, then leave them be; it’s apparently a nice hidey-hole for the day. Though when I noticed, the afternoon sun was at the right angle to shine directly into the space and illuminate the frog brightly, which I didn’t imagine was ideal, but I also knew within half an hour the sun would move on and the frog would be shaded again.

A little later, I glanced at the hosta flowers and had to call The Girlfriend down to see.

green treefrog Hyla cinerea sheltering on hosta flower
The frog either didn’t believe the sun would move on or didn’t want to wait, and took this little perch for the minimal shade that it provided. Which is amusing, because the hosta has leaves that could shelter a small pony like, right there, but okay. Not judging.

A few minutes later, the sun had gone behind a cloud momentarily, and I took advantage of the better contrast conditions for the spooning portrait.

green treefrog Hyla cinerea on hosta flower
Eventually, probably prompted by our constant activity nearby, the frog did finally go down below to the leaves, even though by this time the heron spot was shaded again. I’ve already tried patiently explaining that, for instance, the greenhouse is a really bad place to take shelter within during the hot days, and the treefrogs routinely ignore me (I remove at least two a week,) so I didn’t waste my time suggesting that the frog could return to its original spot. They’re like teenagers.

Isolation, like Jupiter and Mars

That’s a line from ‘Catch A Star,’ an obscure track from Business As Usual, the first album by Men At Work, and it popped into my head as I was hiking down to my shooting locale this morning because I was heavily influenced by that album when it was released – we already know I’m old, shut up. I wasn’t going down there to shoot Jupiter and Mars – not specifically, anyway – but the moon instead, since it was rising as a tiny crescent only 1% illuminated, and I do these things. Just a wee bit too much humidity kept the moon from my view, but Jupiter and Mars were visible much higher in the morning sky, quite close together as they reached conjunction today. I’d seen them as I was loading the car, but didn’t bother setting up the tripod and long lens then – time was tight for the moonrise – so I thought I’d try them once I was down at the lake.

Jupiter Mars conjunction 2022
It was twilight by then, so I endeavored to get a proper exposure while maintaining some sky color, and not only succeeded in that, I got three of Jupiter’s moons decently exposed (left to right, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto – had I been out a little earlier, i might have gotten Io too.) This was with the Tamron 150-600 at 600mm with the 2x converter, so about 1000mm, and cropped at that, but both Mars and Jupiter could easily be seen without assistance – the Jovian moons, not so much.

[Mars has two moons too, but they’re so small that I wouldn’t even come close to capturing them with this rig.]

Once the sky had gotten brighter, I knew the chance of finding the moon was gone, and I waited around until sunrise, watching the great blue herons (Ardea herodias) as they got practically manic with the morning – I’ve never seen so much activity from the species. My perspective was on a causeway overlooking the lake facing into the rising light, so not the best, plus I was leaving the long lens attached for the sunrise, which I snagged on video. But after it was up, I played around with being fartsy.

great blue heron Ardea herodias entering glitter trail at sunrise
I caught a distant heron as it passed across the glitter trail, but too far away to really get a good “heron” impression – I had dialed in compensation to darken down the exposure and keep the colors deeper. I waited around, knowing the sun would be too bright to do anything with very soon, but I didn’t have long to wait.

great blue heron Ardea herodias alongside sunrise
This one was a lot closer, and just missed passing in front of the sun, but that’s okay – at this brightness, the silhouette would have been overpowered by the sun and the distinct outline burned away. This is a tighter crop, and I also tried it as a horizontal composition to see which I liked best.

great blue heron Ardea herodias alongside sunrise
This… didn’t really answer my question, so I’ll leave it up to you. Cast your vote by buying a print, and I’ll announce the winner at a later date.

Just as I was packing up, I fired off a handful of frames with the 18-135 lens, but with the exposure compensation still darkened down a bit.

distant great blue heron Ardea herodias over darkened lake
The result was slightly impressionistic, and both The Girlfriend and I felt it has an Asian air to it somehow. You can cast your vote for this one too, though it’s not competing against anything.

I’ll have a chance at the crescent moon again in two days, only this time it’s a waxing crescent following the new moon and will have to be captured at sunset instead of sunrise. However, it’ll be closer to 2% illuminated then, and I’ve already done better than that, so maybe I’ll try, and maybe I won’t. As it is, I’m aiming for the Tau Herculids meteor storm early that morning, and it may hinge on how that went. We’ll see.

Photoblog, photoblog

It’s not, really, but closer to that than, say, a parenting blog – man, even typing that makes me itch.

Anyway, a couple photos from last evening, since it’s been a few days without a post. Which is amusing, because in the earlier days, it might be a month or more between posts, and now, I had the same number of posts as the days in May – four days ago. I’m a little behind now, but it’s not about the numbers anyway.

green heron Butorides virescens, possibly juvenile, peering from deep within foliage
At the neighborhood pond, I’ve been seeing a green heron (Butorides virescens) in the same spot for a few days now, though I admittedly have only been there in the evening. There’s a nest well above the spot, so I suspect this is a juvenile that came from that nest and doesn’t feel comfortable flying off yet, but that’s only guesswork. I did see a pair hanging out together, back while I was doing beaver video, but for the past couple of evenings it’s been only one. I need to dedicate more time to observing them.

We got horrendous rains yesterday, and the pond was flooding its banks significantly. Out in the middle, I spotted something moving through the water at a decent clip, too small to be anything else but a snake.

northern water snake Nerodia sipedon sipedon cruising through pond
While there is not enough detail in any of my images to differentiate the two species that look similar, I’ve only ever seen northern water snakes (Nerodia sipedon sipedon) on the pond so I’m going with that. I got the feeling that the higher water had flushed it from its normal burrow, but it certainly seemed to be heading towards the overflow area with a purpose, which I interrupted by following it from shore; I was well distant, but perhaps too obvious in my keeping pace, and it soon dove and vanished. This image bears a closer look.

closer crop of northern water snake Nerodia sipedon sipedon
Just so you know, the original above this is full-frame and shot at 600mm, so it was obviously not ‘close’ – I’m a little surprised that it appeared to spook. I was trying to see if it was going to swim right out with the overflow (which was perhaps ten meters wide) since the snake seemed to be heading right in that direction, but it never reappeared after the dive and I’m guessing that it ducked into the weeds. I know enough of the habits of the water snakes to know that, once they dive, they typically reappear close to the water’s edge in an area of decent cover, where they can observe without being seen, and this one had plenty of choices – it was in the same area as the closer beaver clips in the previous post.

That’s all for now, but I’ll be chasing more post material soon enough.

Been building to this

This has been a while in the making, but right now I’m pleased with the results.

Back in February I talked about pursuing a North American beaver (Castor canadensis) in the neighborhood pond, with a couple of “proof” shots taken at night. Naturally, this is limiting, mostly by the flash power, but simply knowing where the beaver might be in the darkness of the pond at night (much less nailing focus) presented some difficulties, and I hadn’t been back for another dedicated session. Then my friend who lives in a house on the pond sent me some stills and video that she’d taken just before sunset, meaning the beaver(s) were now venturing out at the tail end of daylight, which removed a lot of obstacles. So I began making excursions over there when I could.

North American beaver Castor canadensis cruising through pond
What I got, early on, were just more “proof” photos, slightly more illustrative than the night shots, but not a lot. Seeing how close the beaver would cruise by was encouraging, however.

North American beaver Castor canadensis looking like a wet dog
It always gets me to see their coat, because it doesn’t seem like that of an aquatic mammal – they just look like wet dogs, and not like seals as we might expect.

What I wanted, however, was behavior, preferably eating or working on felling a tree. I was skeptical, thinking that for at least the latter, the beavers would only do this when they didn’t feel threatened, e.g., late at night under cover of total darkness. But then one session, as The Girlfriend and I watched, the beaver dredged up a stick from under the surface and lolled around snacking on it.

North American beaver Castor canadensis chewing on stick while floating
Beavers are primarily nocturnal, so seeing something during the day wasn’t likely (this clip notwithstanding,) but here at least it/they seem to get active at dusk, so there’s a window of an hour or two where there’s enough daylight to get some decent shots without the shutter speed decaying too far.

North American beaver Castor canadensis snacking on wood chip almost face-on
I’ve been giving some ambiguity to the number because in February, both of us witnessed at least two beavers, but every time since, there’s only been one visible. This might mean that there really is only one, or that the female is remaining in the lodge because of motherhood duties, or that they trade off appearances – can’t say for sure. The lodge is on an island, so no close looks at that are possible without a bit of messing about that I’m not inclined to do.

Because of the distances, I’ve been using the Tamron 150-600 lens, including with video, which is not recommended – it’s just too difficult to keep stable, but you’ll get to see the results anyway. I then tried it with the routine tripod and ballhead – also not ideal, but fine with unmoving subjects.

North American beaver Castor canadensis munching right at pond's edge
The two images above and below, by the way, were among those that I took as The Girlfriend shot one of the video clips that you’ll see shortly. So yes, I got a few keepers from that, despite the foliage getting in the way. The shot below is full-frame.

North American beaver Castor canadensis peering from screening foliage
I had several video clips now and was looking to put them all together, but realized that I needed just a little more, preferably something quite stable, so I dug out the old video tripod and traipsed back over to the pond for another session (these were all spread out over a couple of weeks, and not in one evening.) Bothered by the audio quality, I also took along the video mic, given that previously I’d only been after still photos and hadn’t thought to bring it along (you really need to see what I do pack, routinely – I need a Sherpa.) And despite the shortcomings of the less-than-professional video tripod, I finally got something sweet.

Some notes about the equipment: I was primarily using the Canon 7D with the Tamron 150-600, which is ‘okay’ for video work, with several shortcomings. The first is, there is no real-time focusing while video is being recorded, so if the subject happens to be changing distances, this requires manually focusing. The lens is stabilized, but that’s made for still photos, and using it during video may just as well induce more jerkiness as the stabilizer corrects then re-orients, and it should be shut off. The on-camera microphone is crapola, omnidirectional and too sensitive, not to mention picking up sound through the camera body, so an external mic is crucial. I have two, both supposedly unidirectional to some degree, but not to the degree that wildlife demands – that’s a much bigger expense, and will come someday.

North American beaver Castor canadensis lifting head from duckweed
I mention the “furry” windscreen in the video, also called a “dead cat,” and this is a literally furry cover (synthetic) that disperses the wind so it doesn’t beat audibly on condenser mics – absolutely necessary (as these sessions demonstrated) for outdoor work. My longer mic has one, but that has proven no more sensitive than the much smaller mic, while being pretty awkward, so I skipped it for these sessions – my mistake.

The 7D also requires using the LCD on the back as the video viewfinder, and this is a horrendous idea. I have an external monitor, which works much better, but, it needs to be affixed to something and is another thing to lug along. Hopefully, you’re starting to get the idea that just having video capability in a DSLR body isn’t this magical solution.

I/we were also using a Canon HFS100 camcorder, which was easier to hold steady, but much shorter reach than the 150-600 of course, and no accessory shoe to mount an external mic to, though it does at least have a jack for one.

North American beaver Castor canadensis peering from pond weeds
The video tripod, with something called a fluid head, is some no-name brand The Girlfriend snagged in the divorce, and not the best quality – I already knew about its stickiness and tried to correct it, and this was the first real test. It failed, but it’s what I have for now.

I’m slowly making this all work, but it’s been complicated and I’m still refining ideas and technique. Then again, at least the subjects can cooperate at times, and I’m not complaining about that.

Visibly different, part 21

female southern black widow Latrodectus mactans in jar
For our opening image this week, we have a female southern black widow (Latrodectus mactans,) the first that I’d seen. It dates from 1991, and was found in a rock cleft on a trail that I frequented – getting her out was a challenge, because widows are shy and prefer concealment, and of course I was endeavoring not to get bitten. Credit to the species, though, since they typically sit just like this in the web and thus display that red hourglass rather prominently.

This was taken with a Pentax K1000 and likely a 35-70mm lens. For a widow, she was massive, the size and hue of a Milk Dud, or as they call them in England, a Frommy-Lottle (okay, I lie – they probably just call them, ‘malted milk balls,’ like any decent person would.) At 10mm or so in abdominal girth, she was roughly twice the average size for the species, and probably about to produce an egg sac.

As a bit of trivia, my roommate at the time was allergic to insect venom, and a bite from a widow could easily have proven fatal even though it isn’t that dangerous to most people, so bringing the spider home was not the most circumspect thing I’ve done, but I made sure the lid of this jar was firmly tightened while in the apartment, at least. And I released her the next day after this photo (the spider, not the roommate.)

Now we go to 2013.

female southern black widow Latrodectus mactans on leaves
From time to time, I locate black widows in various locations – I won’t say they’re common, but they’re not rare around here. This time, I was determined to get some detail images and was working with another captive in a ‘studio’ environment – actually, out on the porch where she couldn’t get into the house, with an azalea sprig as the support, held in a clamp that was itself suspended in a pan of water to prevent escapes. And this was good, because she tried several times.

What I wanted to photograph was primarily the chelicerae (fangs,) but the eye detail was a secondary target. I achieved the second above, ever so slightly, because the two anterior median eyes are the bright spots reflecting from the top of the head. I did a little better just a couple minutes later.

facial detail of female southern black widow Latrodectus mactans
All eight eyes are visible here, if you know what you’re looking at – a row of four in front, with two on a little hump in the center, and a row of four across the top seen edge-on. But the chelicerae remain hidden, and as of this post, I’ve still only gotten glimpses of them. This is largely because widows don’t hold still out in the open and won’t pose willingly, with an additional factor that the chelicerae are freaking tiny; this specimen is smaller than the first, abdomen probably 6-7mm in width, so the visible face here doesn’t top 3mm. This was taken with the Canon Digital Rebel/300D with the reversed Sigma 28-105, with the Sunpak FP38 flash and custom softbox for lighting (whole rig pictured here,) which made it possible to see this kind of detail without too much contrast or sharp specular highlights.

But while I’m here,

male black widow Genus Latrodectus
Taken in 2009, this is what a male black widow looks like, though I didn’t know it at the time – significantly smaller than the female, which is typical for spiders. And I don’t even know now if this is a southern or northern variant – the females have distinctive markings, but not the males to my knowledge. This was photographed on the edge of my main door, and possibly the dad of all the little bebby widows that hatched from the edge of my sliding door a little later on.

newborn black widow Genus LatrodectusThe photo at right is the oldest from my blog folder, sized for a post it never made it into years ago; I can finally clear it out (into the ‘Uploaded’ folder now, so not really saving any harddrive space with a lateral move.) This is what a newborn black widow looks like, though again, not sure if northern or southern. This was one of the last stragglers that I discovered having hatched from the sliding door, thankfully outside the apartment, though where all the rest (dozens, if not hundreds) got to I couldn’t say. But yeah, they go through a radical color change into adulthood, and the juveniles have some funky coloration (that’s a juvenile female in that post, not a male – my knowledge evolves too.)

You can probably imagine how small this is, but maximum 3mm in leg spread – it was hard to distinguish it from all the molted exoskeletons of the newborns that were left behind in the web. The mother was eventually, with some effort, evicted from her home in the track of the sliding door; I’m tolerant of a lot of wildlife incursions, but something venomous living where it could be encountered far too casually just wasn’t going to fly.


Well, I did get out to chase turtles for World Turtle Day, and I present proof:

eastern painted turtle Chrysemys picta picta basking on log in neighborhood pond
Hey, listen, even I’m saying, “Really? This?” But here’s the deal: There are tons of turtles in the neighborhood pond, which is no challenge at all, so I figured I’d make the effort to photograph a species that I hadn’t seen in a while, which I’d already been planning to stalk before this, and that’s the eastern box turtle. That’s not what’s pictured here – this is an eastern painted turtle (Chrysemys picta picta.) I’ve seen box turtles in the area, even right here at Walkabout Estates, but it’s been a while, and the last that I’d seen was out at North Topsail Beach four years ago. So I picked a likely habitat, with another as backup, and headed out on my quest.

And found bupkiss. I was mostly relying on my ears, because box turtles camouflage well in their native habitat so I was aiming to hear them moving through the leaf litter, but still taking the time to search prime areas by eye. Nothing showed itself at my first choice locale, so I moved on to the second. Nothing there either. By now I’d been at this for over three hours, and had a couple of errands to do, plus there was still the neighborhood pond as backup. Only thing was, right at the time that I was going to hike over there, the fierce thunderstorm rolled in and delayed things for an hour, and by that time it was early evening. What you see here is the only turtle that I found basking in the light overcast remaining after the thunderstorm – no surprise, really, because we’d moved beyond basking conditions. Oh, and another:

some turtle peeking from under surface
That’s not even worth trying to identify, and for clarity’s sake, I’ll tell you it’s the left side of the turtle’s head, aimed mostly skyward, with one eye visible at the waterline. But anyway, I celebrated the holiday by dedicating a search for a target species of turtle, specifically for the challenge. I just sucked at it.

While circling the pond, however, I did a few other photos, which aren’t topical but I’m feeling defensive.

buff female mallard Anas platyrhynchos sleeping with brood
The buff female mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) that’s been hanging around for a couple of years now had another brood this year, and was found snoozing on the pond’s banks, willing to ignore me as long as I didn’t get too close, though as it was, I passed only a handful of meters away. This detour required me to stroll among over a dozen Canada geese that were blocking the entire drive around the pond, a few of which gave me warning hisses but were otherwise mellow. While close, I did some tight portraits of the ducklings.

mallard Anas platyrhynchos ducklings waking from nap
The ducklings were more wary of me than the mother – it’s usually the opposite – but not so much that they stirred themselves from their temporary roost. In the blog folder is a fartsy composition of the mother and ducklings from about two weeks ago, that I haven’t found the excuse yet to post. It’ll show soon.

A short distance away, a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) was perched on the banks.

great blue heron Ardea herodias being Florida mellow
The herons have been pretty spooky this year, and I haven’t even draw close before, but this one was being Florida tolerant, watching me carefully but allowing me to pass within 8-10 meters, and for my part I played it casual, snapping a couple of frames almost carelessly before ignoring the heron as inconsequential, which may have helped. It let me get a tighter portrait too.

profile of Florida mellow great blue heron Ardea herodias
Yeah, I was supposed to be after turtles, but there were no turtles in sight, and this guy was right there, asking for it. I accept no blame for responding appropriately.

Plus, there is some really cool content coming soon, though it requires a bit of editing so I’m not committing to a specific date – before the end of the week, at least. I had a good evening yesterday. Sit tight.

Go find a turtle

profile of Aldabra giant tortoise Geochelone gigantea at Greensboro Science Center
Getting this out early to let you know that today is World Turtle Day (for realsies, cross my heart,) so go out and find yourself a turtle – it should be warm enough throughout most of the US to spot one someplace. Or if you don’t want to do that, you can always donate to the turtle rescue or protection fund of your choice, or teach someone about turtles, or make those little chocolate-and-peanut thingies – whatever works. That link may provide some ideas if you need any.

Neither of these images were taken today, because this is posting in the wee hours, but I intend to get out and see what I can find myself, so watch this space for further developments. Though since the posts display ‘newest first,’ you’ve either already seen what I’ve found, or you need to come back in a little bit. Either way, it’s your chance to get something better than I did, perhaps even before I did. You won’t, of course, because this is me we’re talking about, but you can still try.

Enjoy the day!

pair of eastern river cooters Pseudemys concinna concinna in Eno River

I can guarantee one thing

So, it appears there could be a surprise meteor shower on the morning of the 31st. Well, not exactly a surprise, but one that isn’t recognized as a significant shower and hasn’t been a performer in the past.

Universe Today has all the details, but in short, a comet known as Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 (73P to its friends) was observed in 1995 to have broken up into numerous fragments, leaving multiple debris streams in the form of its tails. And on next Monday night/Tuesday morning, we’re going to be passing straight through the bulk of these debris streams, which is what makes meteors in the first place. Peak time is about 1 AM EDT, and the moon will be on the other side of the planet – what you want from a meteor shower, though it rarely happens.

The thing is, no one really knows how much debris is in those streams, because we have no baseline to go from with this storm/comet. It could be virtually unnoticeable, or it could produce over 1,000 meteors per hour. Because of the orbital mechanics, the prediction is that any meteors will be slower than normal, perhaps taking a few seconds to trace their path, which would make them slightly easier to notice if, for instance, you first spot them out of the corner of your eye (which, I can tell you, happens a lot.)

So, will it be a waste of time to be out there looking and/or photographing? No one can say. But as the title says, I can guarantee that you won’t see a damn thing if you don’t try.

Good luck!

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