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11th August 2010

FIREBALL METEOR OVER ROSS - ........................................

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Tina and I have been watching Perseid meteors, whenever possible, every August since we have known one another. Over the years, we have seen thousands but I have only ever seen three true 'fireballs' and Tina saw her first last night. I am filming the Perseids this year, before during and after their peak on Thursday, 12th August, and so I have spent as much time as possible over the past few days randomly filming the night sky with a Nikon camera and 10.5mm fisheye lens. Last night, Tina and I finished the regular news updates then went to Brampton Abbotts with the camera equipment.

At 11.03 BST, a fireball meteor entered the Earth's atmosphere, approaching from the East South East. It lit the sky for a full 5 seconds before its final burnout. With our eyes, we could see the chunk of space debris as it burned - looking like a fireball moving rapidly through the night sky.

The photo below is a fisheye picture, covering 180 degrees of the sky, so it appeared a lot closer to us in reality than the way it is pictured. If you look closely at the photograph, the short red line to the top right of the meteor trail is the distance a jet aeroplane travelled during its easterly trajectory. The bright 'star' to the lower right is in fact the planet, Jupiter. The lights on the ground are the bit of road which bypasses Ross, leading to the M50.

DOWNLOAD: I ran this photo in the blog and elsewhere when we arrived home this morning. As a result, lots of people have asked if they can use it as their desktop wallpaper.
If you click here, or on the image below, a full size (be patient - it's nearly 5 meg) version will open in a separate window or tab, right click it to save.

IMPORTANT: This image is my copyright. You may download it for personal, non-commercial purposes only such as desktop wall paper - personal prints. It must not be altered or cropped in any way. It is one frame from an as yet unfinished film I am making and must not be published anywhere - newspapers, magazines etc. without written permission.

How to see Perseid meteors >>>

Click to download for non commercial use.
The fireball meteor Tina and I watched last night.


This is a question I have also been asked many times over the past few days and so I will answer it as best I can here, to save myself a lot of email replies.

The Perseids are very small particles of dust, which enter the atmosphere and burn up as, every August the Earth passes through the dusty trail left in the orbit of comet Hale-Bopp. The time you are likely to see most is over the night of August 12th - morning of August 13th. This is the peak time and (clear skies permitting) at this time, I shall be filming, from sunset onwards, from Yat Rock. Stop by and say hello if you wish.
Any time when the sky is dark and there is no moon, a few days either side of this time is good for looking up at the skies for Perseids.

There is no guarantee of seeing any! Meteors appear totally randomly and in any part of the sky. All you can do is look, hopefully during known periods of activity such as now. it is just a case of looking up at the sky. You might be lucky and see one quickly - it could take an hour before you see one. For the Perseids - I find it best to look North to East, mainly keeping 'W' shaped northern constellation of Cassiopeia in view.

That is all I can tell you, I'm afraid. It is mostly luck - but just a little judgement can help!

A closer look at where it fell.
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