'Once in a lifetime' video captures moment meteor explodes in night sky above Clun Castle

'I immediately thought, 'I hope that was caught in the frame',' says photographer Nick Jackson. 'It's very unusual to see a meteor that big'

Tommy Lumby
Saturday 27 October 2018 12:00
'Once in a lifetime' video captures moment meteor explodes in night sky above Clun Castle

An astro-photographer has captured the 'once in a lifetime' moment a meteor exploded before disintegrating into the night sky in Shorpshire.

The scene, which has been recorded very few times on camera, was caught during an Orionid meteor shower.

Orionid meteors occur every Autumn when the Earth is passing through the stream of debris left by Halley's Comet.

Landscape photographer Nick Jackson had gone to Clun Castle in Shropshire, to shoot the 13th century edifice in front of the night sky to make a "star trail".

But halfway through the shoot, Nick saw the meteor fly across the sky behind the castle.

He said: "I immediately thought, 'I hope that was caught in the frame'. It's very unusual to see a meteor that big. Because I was shooting the star trail, I couldn't check the footage immediately."

When he got home and reviewed his pictures, he realised he had caught the moment.

The 44-year-old said: "It was a sheer stroke of luck that I just happened to be shooting the series of images when it happened. With things like that, you've got to be in the right place at the right time."

A series of 30 pictures made into a video shows the meteor fly into the middle of the frame and explode in a piercing flash of light.

Then as a circular cloud of debris disperses into the starlit sky, two more meteors can be seen streaking into view from different directions.

The scene, much of which would be invisible to the human eye, unfolded over the space of about four minutes.

Nick then combined the images into four seconds of footage.

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He said: "To the naked eye, it's over in a flash. You just see a streak of light and a bright ping and then it's gone. However, the camera captures all the detail of the aftermath."

Nick added: "There are very few. I posted it on Facebook on some astronomy groups and it just blew up over the weekend. People were saying, 'You're a lucky guy, that's a once-in-a-lifetime thing'."

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Nick used a full-frame Nikon d570 camera with a 24mm f1.4 lens to shoot the scene.

He said: "The reason we photographers go out in the middle of the night and stand there in the freezing cold is because we're obsessed with the beauty of the night sky, its peace and calm. And when you see something like that, it's just awe-inspiring."

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