Did I successfully capture the Tau Herculids meteor shower?

Five days ago, I wouldn’t have even known what the tau Herculids meteor shower was.

Last night, I was scrambling to find a last-minute spot for a meteor shower that could either be a spectacular meteor storm – or a big fat nothing-burger.


The tau Herculids are the remnants of a fractured comet. The comet, officially named 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 after the two German scientists who discovered it in the 1920’s, is disintegrating, and its fragmented trail passes through Earth’s orbit. But because the comet is essentially still a mystery, we don’t know if we’re going to get a once-in-a-lifetime meteor storm, with possibly 1,000 meteors per hour – or maybe nothing at all.

Well, I’m hoping for the former rather than the latter.

But I need a shooting spot. Somewhere away from city lights. Something that can give me a very appealing foreground subject.

Something … shall we say … worthy of Presidential appreciation.

And we have that in Albany. We’ve got a former President of the United States interred in the Capital District. Chester A. Arthur is buried in Albany Rural Cemetery.

So after making arrangements with the staff at Albany Rural Cemetery for after-hours access, and the promise that I was not contemplating ritual sacrifices with naked virgins and cans of Red Bull … everything was set up. And I had to keep this a secret – partially because I couldn’t confirm if the skies would be clear enough for the meteor storm; and partially because I WANTED THIS IMAGE AND I DIDN’T NEED ANY COPYCATS FOLLOWING ME.

11:00 p.m. I’m navigating through Albany Rural Cemetery. I tell you, the last time I took a photo in a cemetery, oh, it must have been 12 years ago, over in neighboring St. Agnes Cemetery.

Star Trail in St. Agnes Cemetery, Albany NY
Star Trails at St. Agnes Cemetery. Nikon D700 camera, Kiev MIR-20H wideangle lens. Photo (c) 2010 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Wow. I got that shot twelve years ago. If I can get that shot then … imagine what I can do now.

Okay. Time to find Chester Arthur’s tomb. Took a while, almost went the wrong way, but I eventually found the ornate burial plot. And luckily for me, I could line things up so that the star Arcturus was in the distance – apparently the meteor shower emanates from that nearby constellation Bootes.

Looked up. Partly clear. The problem is, I can see those wispy clouds clear as anything. I gotta hope for a break in the weather, or this photo shoot will be a waste.

And eventually … the clouds slowly drifted away.

Okay. Line everything up. Nikon Df on the tripod. Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens on the chassis. Vello intervalometer attached to the shutter mount.

All I need now is time and patience. And some luck.

The clouds unfortunately kept coming and leaving. Like someone who doesn’t get the message that the party’s over.

Still, with over 1,000 images taken with the Nikon Df camera …

This one captured a meteor and turned out the best.

Meteor over grave of President Chester A. Arthur. Nikon Df camera, Irix 15mm f/2.8 lens. (c) 2022 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

I can take this. This will work for me. It may not be totally Competition Season worthy – if that were the case, I should have enjoyed clear black skies and heaps of meteors – but I can save this for some other event.

You know … maybe this might be something that could fit in BUILT. Maybe?