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  • Writer's pictureBettymaya Foott

Hello World! Quadrantids Wiggly Meteor.

Updated: Jan 11, 2020

I am going to try out this whole blogging thing. I have some pretty interesting experiences while out trying to capture pictures of the night sky. For instance, I just got out to shoot during the peak of the Quadrantids in the middle of nowhere, Colorado, and captured something for the first time, a wiggly meteor! See image below.

This picture is completely unedited, shot on my Canon 5D4 with a Sigma 50 mm lens at 1.4 ISO 5000 for 10 seconds. This image was also part of a series for a panorama. Of course it's all the way to the left.

Ask an astronomer.

So, what is a wiggly meteor anyway? What makes it like that? Is it even real, or could it have been my camera shaking (it was quite windy!). Lucky for me, I work with some really smart people. One of them is John Barentine, a doctor in astronomy. When asked what could make a meteor like that, Barentine responded,

"Maybe something that tumbled in flight? Happens when the flow of air around the heated object switches from laminar to turbulent."

Um, oh ya, I just pretended to know what laminar meant.

But, according to an APOD featuring a wiggly meteor, "attributing such behavior to the motion of the meteor itself and neither the wind-blown meteor train nor the observer remains somewhat controversial."

When asked if the wind could have affected my image, Barentine responded, "Can’t be — your stars are steady. If the object tumbles during flight and the plane of the tumbling is perpendicular to the line of sight, I can see how it would wobble back and forth as seen from the ground."

When asked, Travis Deoye, Program Specialist at the University of Arizona Steward Observatory said wiggly meteors are "normal, yes, and rare, also yes."

So, there you have it. Dr. Barentine and Travis say it's possible, and I choose to believe them, because I also have some pretty good photo evidence :)

Thanks for reading! This is my first post, let me know what you think, and what you want to hear more about! Cheers to 2020!


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