Cupid Mountain Milky Way

Nightscape with David Kingham (Podcast 422)

Today I talk with David Kingham, the author of Craft and Vision's latest ebook Nightscape, that is hot of the digital press. David is a landscape photographer currently living a nomadic life traveling the America West specializing in making breathtaking photographs of the night sky. Use this audio player to...

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Martin Bailey
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer and educator based in Tokyo. He's a pioneering Podcaster and blogger, and an X-Rite Coloratti member.
  • Morton Goldberg
    Posted at 08:03h, 23 May Reply

    Martin, concerning your Namibia meteor experience, the only thing I can think of to explain it is that the meteor exploded when it penetrated deep enough into the atmosphere to be heated beyond some critical temperature. That sometimes happens. To get the lighting effect seen in the frame you post, I think the meteor must have exploded below your local horizon. My conjecture is supported by your previous frame which shows the meteor already near the horizon.

    You were unbelievably lucky to capture this shot. The chances of everything that needed to happen happening while you were there with your shutter open are literally astronomical (pun intended).

    However, I can’t take your assertion that the meteor flash turned night into day too seriously. I’m sure it seemed that way to your night-adapted vision, which wouldn’t be able to switch to daytime vision mode in the brief duration of the flash. If the flash had really been as bright as it seemed to be, it would have obliterated the stars that also appear on the right hand side of the image. I would say that the flash was as bright as the dawn sky with the sun a little below the horizon. That’s still very bright.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 08:58h, 23 May Reply

      That’s what I was thinking too Morton. Assuming that it was the same meteor from the previous shot, that’s pretty much all it could have been.

      As for night into day, I’m talking figuratively based on the resulting image. I was in bed when this happened. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Indy
    Posted at 06:01h, 10 June Reply

    With regards to your meteor ‘turning night into day’, I have to note a few things. First, if it really did turn night into day, your shot would have been whited out. What you got was more like turn dark of night into near full moon bright for a moment. I had that experience actually last year when I caught a fireball (approx -11 to -12 magnitude, which is about as bright as the full moon) during an astro-lapse sequence I was shooting in West Virginia. I’m assuming you did no white balance adjustments to the ‘bright as day’ image, yes?

    Second point, the meteor you pointed out in the ‘before’ frame could not possibly have been the cause of the sky brightening. One bit of evidence is to note the shadows of the foreground objects, they aren’t in the direction away from your other meteor. Whatever the source of the flash of light, it was definitely off-camera, but not below the horizon.

    Third, I don’t know what your delay interval was between shots (or any of your other EXIF info; helpful to know to help detective work on this ๐Ÿ™‚ ), but meteors generally only last 1-2 seconds (if that). It is very very rare for them to last much longer than that. If you had been shooting with, say, a 5 second delay between shots, the meteor you captured would have long since burned up. If you had no delay between shots, you would have captured the rest of the track of the meteor, as it isn’t close enough to the horizon to instantly disappear between shots.

    What was the date and time of this event? And location? You might have had a fireball off-camera but overhead somewhere that you caught the scattered light from. You may be able to track down more information about it here:

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 10:11h, 10 June Reply

      Hi Indy,

      I’m speaking figuratively about the night into day thing. The photo looks as bright as daytime. I’m not saying it was actually as bright as the daytime.

      I’m sure you’re right though. It does seem a bit odd that the meteor captured was still around or even in the right place to light the scene up this much. The gap between frames was only two seconds, but still, I’m sure you’re right.

      I was hopeful of the page you linked to, but that’s only US locations. I shot the above image in Namibia.

      Thanks for the information though. I’m sure you’re right about the fireball.


    • Indy
      Posted at 02:54h, 12 June Reply

      Hi Martin,

      Ah, bummer that the link wasn’t helpful. Very sorry. If I get some time I’ll prowl around the net a little and see if I can find something more world-wide.

      But I’m pretty darn confident that you caught the light of a fireball. You can compare from the fireball I actually caught in the field of view of my camera last September here:
      I was shooting 25 second exposures with a 5 second pause for the camera to write to the card and the cart on the slider to move. I got damned lucky to have caught that (and doubly lucky that I was sitting out with another camera about 100′ away, facing another direction, and I turned to look west *just* in time to witness this fireball drop in the sky in real life).

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 10:30h, 12 June Reply

      No problem on the link Indy. I didn’t mention above that this was Namibia. ๐Ÿ™‚

      It sure does look like the fireball you captured. Thanks for sharing the link. Great shot too!

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