Behold: a meteor, but an especially bright one (even brighter in reality than seen here), and therefore entitled to a more vivid descriptor. To wit:
The International Astronomical Union defines a fireball as a meteor brighter than apparent magnitude -4, which corresponds (roughly) to being brighter than any planet — as well as bright enough to cast a human-noticeable shadow. Pictured, an astrophotographer taking a long-duration sky image captured by accident the brightest meteor he had ever seen. Clearly a fireball, the disintegrating space-rock created a trail so bright it turned night into day for about two seconds earlier this month. The fireball has been artificially dimmed in the featured image to bring up foreground Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada. Although fireballs are rare, many people have been lucky enough to see them. If you see a fireball, you can report it. If more than one person recorded an image, the fireball might be traceable back to the Solar System body from which it was ejected.
(Image: Hao Qin)
A glorious photo by Gunarto Song of a shooting star appearing to fall into the mouth of Mount Merapi – the most active volcano in Indonesia.
Merapi’s constant activity means that no one is allowed within 5km so, in search of a good shot of the evening scenery, Song set up his camera on Batu Alien – a huge head-shaped stone thrown from the mouth of the volcano during a previous eruption.
From here, he noticed the falling meteor and captured a four-second exposure which has since gone viral.
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)
Earth gets pelted by tiny rocks all the time, but every so often, a real whopper hoves into view (and hopefully glides past).
To put all this into context, here’s a terrifying new size comparison from masters of same, MetaBall Studios.
Previously: It’s What You Do With It That Counts
Did you catch the annual Perseid meteor shower last night? Of course you did. But it didn’t look like this. Because this (with a little technical adjustment) is what it looked like last year over Slovakia. To wit:
The featured composite image was taken during last year’s Perseids from the Poloniny Dark Sky Park in Slovakia. The unusual building in the foreground is a planetarium on the grounds of Kolonica Observatory. Although the comet dust particles travel parallel to each other, the resulting shower meteors clearly seem to radiate from a single point on the sky in the eponymous constellation Perseus. The radiant effect is due to perspective, as the parallel tracks appear to converge at a distance, like train tracks.
(Image: Petr Horálek)
Highly derivative of Pixar’s Wall-E but still very cute, this highly accomplished short by VFX graduate Shawn Wang (his Communication University of China graduation thesis film) tells the tale of two exploratory rovers sent to trial plant growth on a potentially inhabitable planet.