Around the frozen Seč lake, where fishes put themself to winter rest, the snowy blanket covered endless forests. People hidden in their warm cottages were just dreaming about their wishes around Advent candles as the miracle night is about to come in only 10 days. Remembering the legendary story of Jesus Christ birth, they also quiestioned themself ‘What could be the Christmas star that time?’ With the tones of carols in their mind and heart, they probably took a look in the starry sky above and looked for that star again. What a surprise when a shooting star appeared instead of that. Even if the Christmas are still days far, this was perhaps the night of wishes too. Dozens of shooting stars shined that calm winter night…
Geminids 2018 over Seč – full sky
This could be a poteic explanation of the peak of annual Geminid meteor shower captured during night 13-14 December 2018 over the Seč island. About 12 years I have been waiting for this. The Seč island is such photogenic in the winter, but annual Geminid shower is quite tricky to capture over it. Why? There are many factors to negatively influence the whole view. First at all, the Geminids peak around 14th December, when very usually the inversion weather covers whole country and only in high montains you can have a clear skies. Seč is below 600 metres above sea level, which is not enough to get above the inversion. Of course, the other aspect to see many Geminids is the fact you need moonless skies (or at least no moonlight in the second half of the maximum night). In the end, apart from weather and the Moon, it is pretty special if the countryside covers new snow just before the Geminids peak to capture this quite fairytale view. This year all the needed factors finally came together. The inversion weather covered whole country as expected but miraculously from 10pm to the daybreak of the pre-maximum night the sky cleared up just over this region. Only two days before the night, very heavy snow storm covered just this region by 30 cm of new snow. And the moon phase was very favorable for Geminids after years. So yes, what I was wishing for last 12 years, was finally fulfilled. Yaay!
The Geminid night of wishes
The shooting itself was a bit difficult as when the sky cleared up, the temperatures went very quickly down from zero to minus 14 degrees of Celsius. That brought a lot of complications, especially with lenses, which were constantly covered by ice no matter what. Fortunately, I had two pieces of the same lens type (Samyang 12 mm) so I was just changing one for another and heated the frozen one for next change. Over and over again, every half an hour for almost whole night. Getting on the top of the view, from where the Seč island is pretty visible, was a chapter itself. As the snow covered this particular (and pretty dangerous) place freshly, there were no trails to know if I go well or not. One wrong step could mean injury as the rocks were slippery under the snowy blanket and below the view is about 40 metres high escarpment. To get there in the night I had to precisely know where to step and take the view safely, so I decided to go there in the daylight before and mark the spot. Of, course, the daytime view was such beautiful as well.
Fresh snow covered Seč lake before the Geminids peak
The resultant views contain up to 64 Geminids captured during 8 hours long clear skies period. The brigtest one was about -3 magnitude and was followed by 2 minutes visible persistent train. In the view you can also find green comet 46P Wirtanen which was about 2 days before its closest approach to Earth. The variety of colours in the sky is caused mostly by different sources of light pollution but also by the airglow. Used Canon 6D IR Baader modifies, Saymang 24 mm, f2.2, ISO 10000 (foreground panorama) and Samyang 12 mm, f2.8, ISO 10000 (meteors). Meteors registered to the foreground image.