Sunday, December 13, 2015

Accidental Geminid Fireball Photo?

Accidental Geminid Fireball Photo?

Tonight is the peak of the annual Geminid meteor shower. Did I accidentally get a photo of one of the early evening "earthgrazers"? (They're called that because they come in on more of a horizontal path, and with more atmosphere to fly through, are often longer and brighter.)

I might have. I was coasting to a stop at the light on a rainy evening in Madison, heading west at Mineral Point and Midvale  to capture the lights and reflections just after sunset. No cars around me so I clicked off three virtually identical shots with my iPhone. These are the last two in the sequence, taken within a fraction of a second of each other. The one on the right has a light streak in the upper left; the one on the left does not.

The streak could be a jet contrail if the sky were clear, but it's not, because there was a heavy overcast. It might be a light reflection on the windshield, but that seems unlikely since there's no reflection in the almost identical photo taken an instant before.

That's why I wonder whether it's a very bright fireball visible through the clouds, especially as it looks like one, getting brighter the further it goes. No way of knowing for sure, but I like to think it's a Geminid.

The weird thing is that, while driving I didn't notice anything. My attention was on the road and the upcoming intersection. Only noticed it when reviewing the photos.