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With the biggest Perseid meteor shower of our lifetime peaking Thursday night, I decided to meet up another photographer friend and attempt to photograph the rumored 200 meteors per hour.

I had initially scouted out a location near Martha, Kentucky given that it was the closest, darkest place I could find on a light pollution map.

However, when we finally met up around 11 p.m. Thursday night, a quick look at the radar revealed that storms were brewing to the south of us — near where I initially wanted to go, so we quickly scrapped that idea and decided to head north.

We made quick midnight food run at a nearby Wendy’s and hit the road. At that time, the only other place I could think of that might be dark was Limeville, Kentucky at a former railroad cabin – NJ Cabin, to be exact.

Once we arrived, we found out that a special maintenance-of-way train (LORAM rail grinder) was running and was littered with lights, we chased the train around for an hour or two while we waited for the moon to set and reach the timeframe for peak meteor rates.

I finally decided that given all the activity near the railroad, it was best not to be anywhere around the tracks that night.

In a last ditch effort, and clouds closing in, we headed even further north to the Shawnee State Forest west of Portsmouth, Ohio.

Finally, it seemed like we had found a prime location. It was dark (aside from some restroom lights and the nearby airport lights), the Milky Way was fully visible and we started seeing several meteors while we set up our tripods and adjusted our camera settings.

The scene over the Shawnee National Forest in Ohio during the peak night for the Perseid meteor shower.
The scene over the Shawnee State Forest in Ohio during the peak night for the Perseid meteor shower.

It wasn’t long until we noticed that clouds were rolling in and the sky was quickly becoming obscured — not even enough time to setup for more than five or so 20-second exposures.

I tried desperately to find a good photo in which a meteor might appear, I pointed my camera to different spots in the sky — but it was no use. Clouds were converging in on us in what seemed like every direction.

We finally called it quits and admitted defeat, empty handed and sleepy-eyed. Mother Nature simply was not our side this year.

This was a stark reminder of the failure we encountered with light pollution during last year’s Perseid meteor showers.

There’s always other meteor showers and next year, I suppose.

Written by:

Cory Claxon is a journalist/photographer for the Grayson Journal-Times, he is also a avid railfan and historian.

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