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.