Meteor showers

Meteor showers (المطر الشهابى؟) are an interesting phenomenon in which meteors (shooting stars) increase the numbers they fall with. Some think it looks like a shower but it doesn't except extremely rarely and if you're lucky and looking at the right spot at the right time. It will then look like Cosmic fireworks!


meteors happen all the time because small rocks (the size of Cairo or smaller like the size of Nasr City), are roaming space all the time. When come into the range of gravity of Earth they are attracted and go to crash into it. For us standing on the surface of Earth we see it as if it's a "falling star" specially when it starts getting burned. The rock when they're hurtling by the hand of gravity to crash on Earth's surface starts touching on the 'atmosphere' which has air. Since the rock is extremely extremely fast (70 km per second is normal!), the air has great friction 'drag' force on it. By this force it slows the rock gradually but mostly it heats it. Heat is so great it starts glowing (like coal in heat) and 'melts' the rock then heat is more that the minerals of the rock starts 'evaporating'!!
And THAT is why we see this crashing space rock making a very fast bright line of melted rock that cools down quickly to dark dust in the line and nothing of it is left to fall on us on the surface of Earth. Well, most of the time because when they fall they make great holes in the shape of 'craters' and which we have plenty of it in the Western desert of Egypt.
Meteor shower orbits 


As you can see in the pics below, they're a large group of rocks in the space in which Earth's orbit overlaps with it, so whatever falls in the grip of Earth's gravity is sunken to its surface as meteors. Sometimes they come one piece at a time (sparsely distributed) but if they look like the group in the second pic together (rare in space because all distances are 'astronomical') then you find the very rare fireworks.


Those rare 'fireworks' are dubbed Meteor Storms and have been mentioned to happen for Leonids (not the largest of showers) every 33 years. The last it was seen as 'Storm' was on 1999, 2001, and 2002. If the frequency of 33 years is true then it should approximately come again on 2032!


You 'size' the showers by how frequent it throws showers at us. Most meteor showers are around 10 meteors every hour! That's about once every 6 minutes which is quite slow. Some 


Meteor shower name Time of year Peak date Coordinates of center Frequency of meteros per hour (ZHR) Rating Parent body
Perseids 17 Jul – 24 Aug 12 Aug

RA: 3

Dec: +58 

100 bright 109P/Swift-Tuttle
Leonids 6 – 30 Nov 17 Nov

RA: 10

Dec: +22

15 bright   
Quadrantids 28 Dec – 12 Jan 4 Jan

RA: 15

Dec: +49

120 bright 2003 EH1(?)


Of course the belts of rocks (as first pic) are well located in space and we know when Earth meets them every year. So that's how there's a 'Calendar' that everybody knows for years to come and that you can always plan ahead months to go watch it.
Meteors group causing shower 


Any place you go star-gazing: deserts of course to be away from what's now known globally as 'cities' light pollution. "Light pollution" is when the street lights are putting unintentionally their lights to lighten the sky and it makes dust particles in the sky so bright you see the sky in the city as if slightly red in color and not so dark. We always see this in the deserts from very far at night: the 'halo' of orange/red ball of lit sky (all wasted electricity because we need the light at the street and not at the sky!)
BEST PLACE ever I've had astrophotography and star-gazing sessions were the town of St Catherine's and the surrounding mountain tops! They're the best by summer too because they're tooooooooooo cold for winter to stay at (the unfortuante blizzard that claimed victims last year)
For a place near Cairo, the writers of SaharaSafaris club propose anywhere near the Qattamia Observatory off the Ain Sukhna road which is well located away from thelight pollution of Cairo. 


We've noticed some wrong photos on the net that are not meteor showers but normal stars put to move in lines (while camera is fixed) which is very normal.
Actually meteor showers are very difficult to capture as photo because of 2 things:
  1.  the normal behaviour is to open the camera lens for long waiting for one or two to come. this cannot stay long (half an hour) or all the stars (which are always moving slowly) will leave linear tracks which will confuse you with the lines you wish to focus on of real meteors
  2. if you don't open the camera lens for long, then you'll have only one or two which doesn't make the 'shower' effect visible
What may be done but the article writers don't know if the technology is there for it, is a camera fixed on moving tripod that precisely follows the celestial sphere and opening the lens for extended hours to capture the long lines of the meteors but over enough time to get a 100 or so of them.
Important Tips for Photography of meteor showers:
  • Rather than focusing on the center of radiant meteor showers, you should be targeting your camera 90% on the sky on it to be able to see long lines of them.
  • You can open the lens continuously for up to 10 minutes and maybe 20 to captuer as many as possible before the stars motion starts showing as streaks.
  • increase sensitivity to capture as much as you can of the meteors
  • if you're including a natural scene in teh foreground, do so cautiously
  • normal photography skills is needed to apply right aperture, ISO, extremely stable tripod (shelter from breeze to get the crispiest pics, mirror fixing to avoid motions, self-timer to start the shot to avoid motion of your own finger pressing the button, etc.


The last one was few years ago and were done off Ain Sukhna road on the small asphalt road to the Qattamia Observatory which allowed the large number of cars (around 150 car with estimated 500 persons!) following to access the place in deep desert but still on the side of a small and well-maintained asphalt which had minute traffic and allowing the cars parked on the side to be safe.  The roads' safety is not easy these days but the calendar remains annual and we'll go now and then at the best times isA. No photos available so far, but hopefully some will show someday specially at the road of Ain Sukhna which was one of the most spectacular number of cars going in lanes and keeping low speed. The cars took around half an hour to clear the toll station. No known astrophotos fron that night too unfortunately. Please send on our Facebook group ( to show here.