Rendezvous with a Fireball/Bolide

November 26 2017

  On the 21st of November, I found myself at one of my favorite locations for observing the night sky. To be exact, in the middle of a field of knee-high green tea bushes on top of a mountain ridge in Hoshinomura, Yame-shi. The view is mostly unobstructed, except for a few trees around the perimeter of the field. I had arrived there at around midnight, after about an hours drive from my home in Dazaifu.

  It was a perfect night for observing the heavens, not a cloud in the sky, no wind to speak of, zero degrees celsius with low humidity, and no moon for the entire night. I had come in hopes of seeing and photographing some Leonid meteors.

  I set up the camera and pointed it east towards the constellations of Leo and Ursa Major.  I then depressed the shutter release button and let the camera’s intervalometer do it’s job. I then sat back in the folding camping chair with some hot coffee and a blanket.

  About an hour or so later, as I was looking towards Leo, a bright flash from directly above lit up the ground. I glanced up quickly to see the golden trail of a meteoroid fading away. Wow! If only the camera had been pointing up, I thought. But I kept the camera pointed towards the radiant of the Leonids. Some minutes passed by, and as I was looking towards Leo, another bright meteor flew out from the radiant. It came from the exact location of the great lion’s head, as if he was spitting fire.  I sat transfixed, as the green fireball streaked across the sky for a few seconds, and then it was gone, leaving a trail behind that glowed bright blue for a short moment, and then to a more orange-tinged color. The high winds then began to slowly expand and twist it into strange shapes as I watched. It remained visible for at least two minutes.        I then changed the ISO to 3000 (why the time lapse suddenly brightens at the 17 second point) in hopes that the sensor would capture the train’s image, and repositioned the camera as the fading remnants (which I later found out are known as persistent trains) drifted slowly to the north.

It was only later, after returning home that I discovered that the camera had captured the fireball and it’s beautiful green glow. How fortunate I was that night.

     Click on images for larger view.

 

 

 

 

Below are a few links if you are interested in learning more about meteors, persistent trains, and other related information.

https://leonid.arc.nasa.gov/meteor.html

http://www.syfy.com/syfywire/catching-meteor-train

 

Water birds of October

November 2nd, 2017

During October this year, a few typhoons passed to the east of us here in Fukuoka, and they brought with them many cloudy and rainy  days.  So I was very happy when Halloween day, (a day off for me) was predicted to have clear skies.  I found myself setting up a blind just as the sun was coming over the horizon at Tataragawa estuary.  The tide was just beginning to ebb, and all sorts of birds were flying to and fro, and I was especially delighted to see some Black-faced spoonbills preparing for their flight south. My spot turned out to be a good one, as the spoonbills flew low and close to my blind on numerous occasions. I also counted five different osprey fishing, and various species of ducks in the area. It turned out to be a magical morning, and I found myself smiling at the show nature put on for me.

   I happened upon a mother boar and her one, not so young piglet. I apologize for the unstabilized  camera. They were about 30 meters away and unaware of me for about 2 minutes, then she caught my scent and ran off so quickly.

The video also has a clip of a little egret using its feet to flush out prey, a perched immature male common kingfisher, and a pair of spot-billed ducks mating. It does seem to me that after the act, he skulks quickly away with his head down. Ha!