Chasing the Camelopardalids Meteor Shower / by Mohammed Ismail

Nothing to make you realise how small you are like sitting beneath the Milky Way.

Nothing to make you realise how small you are like sitting beneath the Milky Way.

Hey guys, what is up!

So a couple of nights ago, I made my way to the Qatari desert for the first time. By the end of it, I was asking myself why it had taken me so long to come out here. To say I was gob smacked, awe-struck and at times simply speechless would be a gross understatement. My senses went on a trip they had never been on before. Here was my experience.

Doha is a growing city which means construction and lights everywhere. As a result, we had to go pretty far out to escape the light pollution. We ended up driving about 100 km away from the city, to an area near the Qatar-UAE road. We then went off road for a few minutes and eventually parked up near a few dunes. My friend pointed out the Milky Way and as I looked up and saw it for the very first time in real life, my eyes began to automatically dart around the clear night sky. I could not help but smile at its allure and marvel at the creation of God and how insignificant we are to the rest of the Universe, yet how elevated we are as the sons and daughters of Adam. It was one of those moments where you are so immersed in a new experience and you don't know what to say or do, so you just stand there, in silence and absorb as much of the experience as you possibly can.

I set up my tripod and camera and after experimenting with the settings, I quickly got into the groove of things. What amazed me was, no matter how many times I looked up at the Milky Way, I was still gazing upon it as if for the first time.

After a few shots, I started moving to different locations to try and get a better foreground. I ended up moving up one of the dunes. As I did so, one of the other people taking pictures there felt the need to shout out:

"Be careful of the snakes...they're poisonous", to which I replied, "Are you joking?" "No, I'm being serious", he replied. My friend and I looked at each other (what little we could see of each other in the dark) and nervously laughed it off. Freaking out over the possibility of snakes and scorpions aside, it was up on top of the dune and away from the rest of the group that I developed a whole new appreciation for the environment. Slowly but surely, I got more and more comfortable with where I was and would at times stop shooting just so I could experience the deafening silence of the desert, over and over again. What made this moment even more spectacular was looking up and seeing a plethora of stars, shining bright and the Milky Way stretching across the clear night sky. It was a very special moment and no matter how long I think about how to put my emotions into words, I cannot. You'll just have to go there yourself.

The only shot I have of a meteor which happened to whizz by as I was capturing the rising moon.

The only shot I have of a meteor which happened to whizz by as I was capturing the rising moon.

Though the meteor shower was not strong that night, the sensory overload from the desert environment was more than enough to make me want to go again and again and again, God willing.

I have embedded a map of the area we went to to take these shots so if you are interested in shooting the night sky, I highly recommend you check this place out.

Peace.