10 Incredible Meteors People Caught on Video
By Dustin Koski, Toptenz, 30 September 2015.
By Dustin Koski, Toptenz, 30 September 2015.
Emerging from the clear blue sky often without warning, meteors have been thought to be both harbingers of doom (sometimes with good cause) and, up until the 19th century, a source of heated controversy over whether they even existed. The Earth is pockmarked by sites of devastating strikes. Yet whenever someone gets lucky enough with their scientific video equipment, time lapse camera, or even their dashcam, they have a video that people the whole world over will often appreciate.
10. Urals Explosion
On February 15, 2013, a meteor exploded roughly 27 kilometres in the air above a region in the Ural Mountain Range in Southern Russia near the border with Kazakhstan. Its angle of approach was such that it was not visible until it had entered Earth’s atmosphere, allowing it to be a complete surprise. Although the shockwave of the explosion injured 1,500 people, largely due to glass from exploding windows, thankfully there were no reported deaths.
This relative lack of tragedy allowed people to concentrate more on perceived novelties of the event, such as how people would not scream or even remain seemingly blaise at the sight of a bright meteor even when they were in close proximity to the area impacted by the shockwaves. More than a few commented that was merely a side effect of living in Russia.
9. Lyrid Meteor Shower
Although NASA claims that the Lyrid Meteors which follow in the wake of Comet Thatcher are “unpredictable” in terms of rate of meteors, it’s practically annual clockwork that they will descend every late April and reach their high point around the 22nd. Their Marshall Space Flight Centre offers a livestream of the event, after all.
The featured video from 2015 which was shot in the Changbai Mountains in Northeastern China (on the border with North Korea) offers not only the sight of numerous shooting stars but lovely time lapse footage of the stars circling the sky. Really helps you not only intellectually understand but viscerally appreciate the way this ball we’re all stuck to is spinning through a glittery void.
8. Perseids Meteor Shower
The Perseid Shower, like the Lyrid one, is the result of debris from a passing comet, in this case the Swift-Tuttle one. It is much longer that Lyrid, lasting from mid-July to late August. This video of the 2013 shower was shot by Jeff Sullivan over several nights. Not to bash the previous video, but this one features consistently better composition and more striking views of the Milky Way revolving in the sky, probably at least partially because of his photography training and better equipment.
He mentions that some of the objects seen streaking through the stars are actually satellites and airplanes, which is very honest of him since it might demystify the videos a little for some people.
7. Hayabusa Re-Entry
NASA does not define meteors as necessarily being rocks from space. It says that they are objects which enter the atmosphere from space. Thus we feel justified in including this video of the Hayabusa Spacecraft, an exploration capsule that was launched from Kagoshima Space Centre in 2003 and returned to Earth seven years later.
It’s an usually bright and pretty entrance of Earth’s atmosphere that actually looks more like a decent firework than most objects recorded falling from the sky. Despite what you might think from looking at the fiery destruction, the capsule managed to deploy its parachute and be recovered fully intact.
6. 4,000 lb. Meteor
On November 8, 2014, the skies above Central Texas produced a bright flash and an explosion the size of a sonic boom as a fireball meteor only four feet (1.22 meters) exploded in the upper atmosphere. As ABC News reported, that particular fireball was part of a larger wave that happened that night, including one with a greenish light seen over Japan.
To get an impression of just how much power that meteor at that weight and height would have had on impact, consider that this University of Arizona online calculator put the impact at roughly 3.8 megatons, or nearly three times the destructive power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
5. Geminid Shower
Even with the skill that the photographer in China and Jeff Sullivan brought to bear, this time lapse video of the residue of the 3200 Phaethon Asteroid from Kenneth Brandon stands above them. What does this December 2012 video that was photographed in Big Sur, California (a popular surfing area in roughly the middle of California’s Pacific Coast) have that makes it so much better? Composition.
The angling of the camera along the horizon is a big improvement over just pointing it up at the sky. It allows the meteors to look like they’re flying at an angle through three dimensional space, which really helps you feel like you’re there watching and it makes the trajectories more more interesting, particularly the ones that curve.
4. Turkey Meteor
Other videos in this list are shot on higher resolution cameras, feature a greater variety of meteors, or shots where the shooting stars are framed better. You don’t expect beauty from security footage from security cameras in Ordu City, Turkey in use back in 2012.
What makes this one stand out is how incredibly bright the meteor in it is. When the video description says that this meteor lights up the night sky, it’s not exaggerating. Fortunately the meteor merely fell harmlessly into the Black Sea.
3. Midwest 15 Minute Fireball
The majority of meteors reach the Earth flying at an angle and speed where you have only a few seconds at most to see them. Not this one from April, 2010. As it descended, it was visible in Wisconsin, Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, and Illinois.
All this over the course of 15 minutes and it produced a sonic boom which shook trees like the 2013 one in Central Texas. Although initially it was controversial why this meteor had appeared, ultimately it was determined to have been part of a meteor shower known as Gamma Virginids. Clearly that was one of the more exhibitionist fireballs ever to appear in our skies.
2. Buenos Aires Meteor
Most meteors tend to be visible enough to read as a white streak through the sky. Not this one, which was recorded in Argentina in July 2015. The head of the meteor has a greenish tint while the tail is orange. It’s not just a trick of the way it was filmed, either. Other cameras showed it to have the strange combination of colours.
Potential reasons for the unusual combination include the possibility that it was due to the gases released by meteors as a result of the resistance. A green glow would indicate that this particular meteor had a high amount of copper in it. Whatever the case may be, the fireball caused no reported injuries.
1. Jupiter Collision
This final video is not particularly beautiful compared to some that we’ve seen. But it is amazing for what it shows. On September 10, 2010, a meteor struck Jupiter with sufficient force that it was visible to even amateur astronomers on Earth such as Dan Peterson from Racine, Wisconsin, the one who first observed it, and George Hall who shot the above video.
The size of the meteor that hit the planet was estimated at being 10 meters in length. Considering that this was recorded 454 million miles away from Earth and that the grey circle being photographed is about 1,300 times the size of our planet, this may be the largest explosions ever recorded on video in our solar system! (The 1994 Shoemaker-Levy Impact doesn’t count because that wasn’t caught on video.) And to think, it was recorded pretty much by accident.
Top image: Fireball caused by a Geminid meteor. Credit: Wally Pacholka/AstroPics.com, via NASA.
[Source: Toptenz. Edited. Some links added.]