Wednesday, August 17, 2016

2016 Perseids

Clouds here at the ObservaRory spoiled much of the show during the 2016 Perseids. I set up the camera sometime after midnight and had it take 30-second exposures until the battery ran out. Despite the clouds, though, it caught images of several meteors, as well as a few other sky fairies.

The image below is my favorite. It was taken sometime near the end of the run. A thin layer of clouds covers much of the sky. The Pleiades is on the right, and Capella--appearing large and fuzzy due to refraction caused by the clouds--is at center bottom. The tree in the lower-right appears blurred because of the wind.

This little meteor originated below and left of the Double Cluster in Perseus.

One of the streaks in this image is a meteor, but the other is a satellite. Guess which one! (Answer below.)

While both appear to be good candidates for Perseids (they seem to originate from the same radiant), the lower streak is actually a satellite. Bright meteors show up in images as multi-colored streaks. They also only appear in one image because they move across the sky so quickly.

Satellites, on the other hand, are usually white and move slowly, often appearing in two or more images.

The animate GIF below is composed of two frames that were taken during a satellite flare, possibly from an Iridium satellite. The fuzzy object at the top is the Andromeda Galaxy. The frames are aligned on the object. Each frame is 30 seconds long, with a 5-second gap between. The motion of the background stars represents the rotation of Earth during the 65-second period.

A flare, possibly from an Iridium satellite.

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