A Blaze Of Colour

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To the unaided eye, meteors – while impressive in speed and suddeness – are usually just white steaks across the sky. The cameras sees more. To wit:

Pictured is a Quadrantids meteor captured by camera over Missouri, USA, early this month that was not only impressively bright, but colourful. The radiant grit, likely cast off by asteroid 2003 EH1, blazed a path across Earth’s atmosphere. Colours in meteors usually originate from ionised elements released as the meteor disintegrates, with blue-green typically originating from magnesium, calcium radiating violet, and nickel glowing green. Red, however, typically originates from energised nitrogen and oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere. This bright meteoric fireball was gone in a flash — less than a second — but it left a wind-blown ionisation trail that remained visible for several minutes.

(Image: Frank Kuszaj)

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