Broadway Tower & The Perseid Meteor Shower

Geoff Moore on Sat 12 August 2017

  • Image Title: Broadway Tower & The Perseid Meteor Shower
  • Pentax K-1 Camera used:
  • Pentax DFA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens used:
  • 28mmmm Focal length:
  • f/3.5 Aperture:
  • 10 Sec Exposure time:
  • 3200 ISO:

Photographing The Perseid Meteor Shower Over Broadway Tower

The summer months are well underway and for many photographers myself included these warmer months and longer days cause a general lull in landscape photography, the reasons are two fold. The longer and warmer days typically mean the nights don't really get dark and such its starting to get light at around 3am, thus travelling to any far flung location needs to be done in the evening before which in turn means even less sleep. 

The second reason is that the summer months also bring about family holidays, meeting friends for drinks and taking the kids to the park as such, time is more limited in what you can do. However with these excuses aside, the summer months do have some interesting events to plan for. 

Summer Solstice and the annual The Perseid Meteor spring to mind, I'm sure there are other notable events which I have failed to remember or note here, but these two each year really do make for interesting photo opportunities as long as the weather is sympathetic.  Having missed the summer solstice, which I seem to do each year, this really only left me with the Perseid Meteor to shoot and such, it was a case of finding a suitable location to shoot from. 

A full breakdown of the 2018 Meteor showers and how to photograph them can be found here.

When shooting the night sky you often want to to be in a dark sky area and or in a location that is suitable elevated above the light pollution of nearby towns and cities. There are now a few locations in the UK that have been awarded dark sky status, they are as follows

The 17 Dark Sky Discovery Sites are:

  • Cairngorms National Park – The Crown Estate’s Glenlivet Estate / 446 Miles (892Miles)
  • The South Downs National Park – Devils Dyke / 169 Miles (238 Miles)
  • The South Downs National Park – Birling Gap / 194 (388 Miles)
  • The South Downs National Park – Ditchling Beacon / 174 Miles (348 Miles)
  • The South Downs National Park – Iping Common / 126 Miles (252 Miles)
  • Suffolk - Westleton Common - 192 Miles (384 Miles)
  • North York Moors National Park – The Moors National Park Centre in Danby - 223 Miles (446 Miles)
  • Bristol – Troopers Hill - 57 Miles (114 Miles)
  • Pembrokeshire Coast National Park – Newgale Beach - 164 Miles (328 Miles)
  • Pembrokeshire Coast National Park – Poppit Sands Beach - 147 Miles (294 Miles)
  • Pembrokeshire Coast National Park – Sychpant PCNPA Picnic site - 162 Miles (324 Miles)
  • Pembrokeshire Coast National Park – Skrinkle Haven PCNPA picnic site - 155 Miles (310 Miles) 
  • Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – Slaidburn Visitor Car Park 198 Miles (386 Miles)
  • Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – Gisburn Forest Hub - 160 Miles (320 Miles) 
  • Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – Beacon Fell Visitor Centre - 143 Miles (286 Miles)
  • Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – Crock O’Lune Picnic site - 160 Miles (320 Miles)
  • Brecon Beacons National Park – Plas Dolygaer - 79.7 Miles (159.4 Miles)

Considering the above the list, and the nearest location being a good 114 Miles from home, I thought I'd try a location much closer, a location which I knew wasn't in a low light area but recent image/photos of Broadway Tower which have appeared on various social media channels suggested the location was far darker than was first thought.

On first inspection of the light pollution charts (Light Pollution Map) Broadway Tower doesn't appear to be a great location for stargazing or low light night photography, however I suspect due to the elevation the tower commands over the Vale of Evesham's landscape it escapes the vast majority of light pollution cast up from the few remaining sodium street lights and the ever becoming popular white LED lighting in the nearby towns of Broadway and Evesham. 

At 1024 feet (312m) above sea level, Broadway Tower is the second highest point on the Cotswold escarpment with unrivalled views and what is better its only 14 Miles from home perfect! 

Deciding on the plan I dropped Mark my fellow a tog a quick call to see if he fancied adventuring to Broadway Tower to capture the Perseid Meteor 's of course he said yes.

Astrophotography - Shooting Stars

Upon our arrival at Broadway tower it was soon apparent that we were not the only ones with the idea of watching the The Perseid Meteor Shower. There were people abound with Telescopes, binoculars, cameras, deck chairs camping roll matt and the like, it really was a very busy scene with at least at first count 20 or so other photographers capturing the last rays of sunset, using the tower as a perfect focal point before the twilight descended. Not to be put off by this fact, and rather, enjoying meeting new people with similar interests Mark and I setup our spot, composed our composition and then waited for nightfall.

As the darkness descended the show began, every few minutes a meteor would streak above our heads, reds, oranges, greens and white, the occasional ooh and argh could be head in the darkness as people gazed on in fascination of one of natures most impress and interesting night time spectacles. Unfortunately with each shooting star it was increasingly frustrating as either it would not shoot across my composition or would happen between the pause be between exposures, not to be put off, 300 shots and several hours later I got the image I wanted.

Perseid Meteor Over Broadway Tower
  • Image Title: Perseid Meteor Over Broadway Tower
  • Canon 7d Mark2 Camera used:
  • Pentax DFA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens used:
  • 28mm Focal length:
  • f/3.5 Aperture:
  • 10 Sec Exposure time:
  • 3200 ISO:

A Perseid Meteor streaking across the sky straight over the top of Broadway Tower and what a stunner it was, a bright red Silicates meteorite trailing to a brilliant copper  tail burning an emerald green simply stunning and well worth the wait. Glancing at my watch It was now approaching 03:30am Mark and I had been watching the night sky since 21:00 the previous evening, hasten to add, we were the only ones left as we called it a night!

The Perseids Meteor Shower

Being one of the brighter meteor showers of the year, and occurring every year between July 17th and August 24th.  The best time to view the Perseids, and most other meteor showers, is when the sky is the darkest. Depending on the Moon’s phase from year to year, most astronomers suggest that the best time to view meteor showers is right before dawn However, a couple of hours after sunset is generally a good time to start looking. During at its peak, you can expect to see between 60 to 100 meteors in an hour from a dark location

Perseids History
Made from the tiny space debris left by the passing comet Swift-Tuttle, the Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus. This is because the direction, or radiant, from which the shower seems to come in the sky lies in the same direction as the constellation Perseus.

In 1835, Adolphe Quetelet identified the shower as emanating from the constellation Perseus. In 1866, after the perihelion passage of Swift-Tuttle in 1862, the Italian astronomer Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli discovered the link between meteor showers and comets. This finding and connection is noted in an exchange of letters between Giovanni Virginio and Angelo Secchi.

Some Catholics refer to the Perseids as the "tears of Saint Lawrence", suspended in the sky but returning to earth once a year on August 10, the canonical date of that saint's martyrdom in 258 AD. The saint is said to have been burned alive on a gridiron, this event is suspected to be the origin of the legend and tale, that the shooting stars of Perseids, are the are the sparks of that fire, and that during the night of August 9–10, its cooled embers appear in the ground under plants, and which are known as the "coal of Saint Lawrence"

Where to look
The Perseids can be easily seen in the Northern Hemisphere. Try looking to the north-east part of the sky, and the zenith (the point in the sky directly above you) for the best views. You may even be lucky a see an 'Earth-grazer'

Broadway Tower

Broadway Tower is a folly on Broadway Hill, near the village of Broadway, in the English county of Worcestershire, at the second-highest point of the Cotswolds. Broadway Tower's base is 1,024 feet above sea level. Broadway Tower is situated of the A44 Evesham - Moreton-in-Marsh, one mile south-east of the village of Broadway. Parking consists of roadside parking within walking distance of the tower. It is generally a popular location with families and children not only for the Tower tours but for the fact that during the late spring to early autumn there is also access to the nearby nuclear bunker attraction! More details at the foot of the page. 

Typically towards sunset however the crowds dissipate and the one can have the grounds around the tower to themselves, either to enjoy a sunset or to gaze up at the stars above as the darkness descends, weather permitting of course.

Broadway Tower Nuclear Bunker

Fifteen feet below a green and pleasant field on the Broadway Tower estate lies a hidden relic of the Cold War and British Military History.

The now form Royal Observer Corps monitoring bunker was once part of a wider network of similar structures all over the United Kingdom built to study and report the effects of nuclear explosions and the resulting radioactive fallout should we have ever gone to war with the Soviet Union during the 1947 – 1991.

Manned by men and women of the Royal Observer Corps; they would be expected to spend 3 weeks below ground during a Nuclear Exchange. What would have been left of the ground above is something horrifying to consider. The Broadway Tower bunker was closed in 1991 when the Royal Observer Corps stood down but it has now been fully restored to how it would have been in the 1980’s at the height of the Cold War.

Further information on this ROC UKWMO can be found here ROC BROADWAY 

How to get here

Enter your starting location on the box provided under the map to see the route from your starting location to Broadway Tower, Worcestershire

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