One of the big problems with shooting timelapse, especially at night, is that it can get very boring, really quickly. So, often, astro timelapse photographers will leave their cameras snapping away while they go for a nap. That’s what Matthew Vandeputte did at the end of May while shooting timelapse on a road trip through Utah.
Meteors are quite common to capture at night, along with the usual aircraft, but capturing one exploding is a much rarer event. But that’s exactly what his camera had seen when he reviewed the images.
As Matthew notes in the video, such meteors are called bolides. Extremely bright meteors that fly through the sky, often exploding in the atmosphere. Matthew writes in his blog that he set his Canon 6D Mark II and 24mm f/1.4 lens up at around 1am and left it shooting while he went to sleep. The camera was shooting 8-second exposures every 9 seconds.
The bolide appeared around an hour later and after exploding it left what is called a persistent train in the sky for over half an hour. The persistent train is a light trail from ionised gas and other elements. Electrons are “ripped from their atoms and recombine to create light” in a similar way to how neon street signs work.
Matthew estimates that the speed of the bolide was somewhere between 25,000 and 160,000 miles per hour (40,000-257,000 kilometres per hour). He also says that he has recorded bolides before, but they were much smaller with trains that were far less visible.
The video looks awesome, but I bet to see something like this with your own eyes would just be incredible.
Be sure to check out Matthew’s blog for close-ups and more details.