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Solar System: Sun, Moon, planets, comets, etc

I don't often take photos of the Sun, Moon or major planets. Others can do that far better. I have concentrated on developing my techniques for photographing deep sky targets. But comets require similar techniques to deep sky objects: only the stacking of exposures is different.


 2012 Jan 22 - A fireball?

While the camera was busy on the V900 Mon photo I sat on the pair of steps I use by the telescope, idly counting exposure clicks and looking eastwards towards the newly risen Leo. I saw what I suppose must have been a fireball. It was not spectacular but it was certainly unlike anything I have ever seen before.

My impression was of a lump of coal. It glowed with a saturated orange colour. Not dazzling but fairly bright. It had an appreciable size - I guess about half the diameter of the Moon, so about 1/4° across. It seemed to have a black outline but I suspect that was probably an illusion. It had a trail of white smoke which rapidly wiggled and dispersed (there was some breeze).

The object moved horizontally as far as I could judge in the 3 seconds or so for which I could see it. It headed southwards following a line roughly from ξ UMa to ζ Leo. My field of view was restricted by my dome aperture so that is as far as I could see it.

I guess it could not have been more than a few hundred metres from me. There was no sound but the waviness of the smoky tail gave me that impression. So something may have fallen to earth on the open hillside to the south of me.

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