Perseid Fireball

Dave Johnston

Well-Known Member
Observing this year's Perseids was challenging in West Virginia, with moonlight illuminating persistent high cirrus clouds. Not expecting much, I headed out and spent the Sunday/Monday night on a cliff edge hoping to get something. I let the camera run with continuous exposures from 5 seconds to 15 seconds (after the moon went down) and accumulated 2200 exposures, about 10 of which showed meteors, most of which did not show well through the thin clouds.

But I did get one good one, which qualifies as a fireball (magnitude brighter then -4). This was very short and fast, but it apparently exploded in a bright flash at the end. The cliffs in the foreground were illuminated only by moonlight. I darkened the sky a little for better contrast but otherwise this needed very little processing.

I'm including a detail of the meteor itself, and of the train that was visible for at least 30 seconds after the event. The train is composed of ionized, glowing air molecules, and was blown around by upper atmosphere winds.


190812 Perseid Fireball Detail.jpg



190812 Perseid Fireball Trail.jpg

Comments and suggestions are welcome!

Dave
 

AlanLichty

Moderator
I really like the full scene in the first image - a very nice result. I would not call myself an expert on night/star photography but I do like the result of how you processed this. The additional detail shot are interesting as I have never shot something like this and was not aware of the rainbow hues to the tail. Glad you included them.
 

Ken Rennie

Well-Known Member
The first image is stunning Dave. The only problem that I can see is that it looks unbelievable and most people will think that it is a good montage rather than a wonderful "straight" image. Ken
 

JimFox

Moderator
Staff member
Very cool Dave! I have had the privilege to shoot quite a few shooting stars and a few fireballs, and this one looks great. It’s such an awesome joy to see one explode. I like how you shot from the cliff there and I like the radiating clouds in the sky.
 

Dave Johnston

Well-Known Member
Thanks, Alan, Ken, Ben and Jim. Alan, the colors of the tail are characteristic of this type of meteor and relative to the composition of the material being ablated. Typically the first materials glow green when first entering the atmosphere, followed by an orange or white or blue-white and often ending with a red, as shown here. This is unusual in that it apparently exploded, generating such a bright light that its color was blown out in the exposure.

Ken, this was so unusual and dramatic that I worried that people would think it is fake; "photoshopped". Then I stopped worrying about it!

Jim, my biggest problem was too much light, honestly. If I had shot longer exposures the cliffs became to bright and the clouds got so light that there would be little contrast with any meteor that happened along, and if I stopped down more I would have decreased the brightness of any meteor. I was just lucky that this one came along to completely eclipse the brightness of the overall scene.

Dave
 
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Sunny Sra

Well-Known Member
Awesome! I saw that meteor as well from my tent while debating if i should setup camera or not. decided not to :)
 
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