LONG EXPOSURE SELFIE CATCHES COMET

Uploaded 28 Dec 2015 — 2 favorites
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© Peter H. Rosen

Photo license: © All rights reserved

How Many photos of a Man - no less a Selfie - appearing with a Meteor (that wasn't mocked up) have you ever seen? IMHO this capture is a totally rare synchronicity, wouldn't you say?

I was wanting to try out my new F2.8 24mm lens now that I've returned to Hawaii and its pitch black starry night sky. It was the day after Christmas. I prepared to take a series of images to test the lens and make a timelaspe, moonrise-movie; of its accent through the clouds. Since my exposures were long, I decided to practice my light painting while I was fine tuning my exposure and ISO settings.

I set up the camera as I usually do and took this Selfie, one of many. When I got back to the camera, I had to rub my eyes, were they deceiving me or did I actually capture the start AND FINISH of a comet's interaction with Earth's atmosphere? A glancing blow for sure as indicated by the nodes of skipping light along its path. I thought maybe my special light painting brush (flashlight) shot a glancing ray toward the lens? But no...

On closer examination, I realized, I had managed to Catch a Meteor! It appears to have struck the outer atmosphere at a glancing angle - like a thrown flat stone skipping over the water. This object (man made or God made??) dipped into the atmosphere several times before flying back into space (or disintegrating).

I'm seeking verification and discovery of what exactly this flying, no doubt wingless wonder I captured, actually was? I went up to the Astronomy Institute here on Maui, but all were away for the holidays.

The image was recorded at 7pm in Kihei, Hawaii, with a Canon 60D. I shot at ISO 4000, f/5 at 15 sec with a brand new Canon 24mm Macro lens. What a christening to get this image on its first use! I purchased it specifically to image the stars in the amazing blackness of the Hawaiian night sky. I bet someone at the tracking stations on top of Mt. Haleakala would have a clue to what the object actually was?

What a great gift to capture this (supposed) eon's old flying fragment of matter, that magically appeared behind my back! You can actually see the bright nodes as it dipped in and out of Earths Atmosphere before continuing its FLIGHT...or fizzling out of existance!

3 responses

  • Adrian Bass

    Adrian Bass gave props (5 Jan 2016):

    Great job

  • Colin Henshaw

    Colin Henshaw said (7 Jan 2016):

    Excellent image, showing the constellation of Orion in the background. However the object shown to the right of Orion, in the constellation of Lepus, is not a comet. It may be a bright meteor, in which case, if the date and exact time (to the nearest minute) are known, it could be of substantial scientific value. It could also be a trail of a bright satellite. It's hard to say, if there were no witnesses. The exposure of Orion would have been less than fifteen seconds as the star images have not trailed. Stars down to magnitude 6.1 have been recorded, in the field of the variable star RX Leporis.

  • Peter H. Rosen

    Peter H. Rosen said (7 Jan 2016):

    Aloha Colin, Thanks for your comment. To help you clarify, the image was recorded at 6:51pm in zip 96753. Did you notice the nodes of light; periodic brightening along the trail. Almost seems like Morse code. The question remains is it possible its a man-made object. Can you tell if its glancing off the atmosphere and surviving, or disintegrating into nothing visible? If you read my story on it, you might get more info? I am trying to find folks in the know about these things...that they might shed some light? Thanks for yours! -PR-

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