Meteor shower over church in Carmarthenshire

Monday 14 December 2009, 13:39

Derek Brockway Derek Brockway

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Alan Evans has been star gazing recently and took these photographs on Sunday evening at St. Mary Magdalenes church, St. Clears in Carmarthenshire.

These shooting stars are called the Geminids and can be seen annually at this time of year.

Most meteor showers are linked to dust and debris from comets. However, the Geminids originate from an asteroid 3200 Phaethon.

Phaethon is an extinct comet which has a cloud of dust trailing it. The Earth moves through it every year in mid December.

St.Mary Magdalenes church:
geminids_meteors_church.jpg


Particles of dust travelling at 80,000 mph hit our atmosphere and appear as bright pale green streaks of light streaking across the sky at a rate of up to 80 per hour.

To see the Geminids, stand with your feet pointing North, West or Southwards and look up at an angle of about 45 degrees.

The point at which the meteors appear to originate (the radiant) can be traced back to the constellation Gemini. The best time to see them is around midnight and ideally an hour or two before dawn.

Wrap up warm and don't get a stiff neck!

Derek

Geminids on BBC News Online

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Comments

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    Comment number 1.

    I'm sorry but these images do not appear to show any meteor trails.

    The streaks are stars which show up like this when a long exposure is made.

    You can see the curve in the trails which is caused by the earth's spin.

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    Comment number 2.

    lollobeeb is correct: these are the trails of stars as the earth rotates during a long photo exposure. Meteor trails, in a similar part of the sky, would be of different lengths, and would not be curved uniformly around the Pole Star.

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    Comment number 3.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Here is a photo from NASA showing the Geminids on a long exposure.

    Long exposure star trails look like this.


    So it's hard to tell from the photos submitted. Derek is checking with an astronomer friend he knows.

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    Comment number 4.

    I just want to explain the photographic process of long exposure which should clear up any doubt about the fact that the geminids are indeed present in my images. The exposure time of 5 to 10 minutes captured what passed through the field of view during that time. Yes, the stars were captured and yes, the trails can be clearly seen. The geminids were also captured. Your comments are nothing short of nonsense. I stood in the graveyard of St Mary Magdalenes church St Clears. I am sure you could check its bearings. The camera was aimed at the church with a vast amount of sky in the field of view. I used a 50 mm lens wide open and set to infinity. The time was approximately 9.30 p.m. when I opened the shutter. I closed it at approximately 9.40p.m. Someone, somewhere in Nasa could confirm that geminids passed through this field of view. I myself saw at least five or six during the exposure. I have no doubt whatsoever that these images have captured the geminids. I congratulate Mr. Brockway for presenting the evidence in such an informative way.

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    Comment number 5.

    Just to confirm the evidence I have looked at the predicted rate of appearance of the geminids. I have pasted a piece from a website which states

    'The meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, but if traced back, they'll all appear to emanate from the constellation of Gemini, hence the name of the shower. Geminds may appear in bursts, so give the show some time. If you only expect to watch for an hour or less, then around midnight local time is the best time to go out.

    "Depending on how dark your location is, and how much of the sky you can see, meteors may streak into view that night at an average rate of one or two per minute," said SPACE.com's Skywatching Columnist Joe Rao.

    That is one or two per minute. Take my exposure time and that translates as minimum 10 and maximum 20. As with any discovery there are always doubters. Where is their evidence? Did they attempt to record the event? How on Earth will we ever progress as a civilization if we have people who base their beliefs on the obvious? Just because you cannot see it, it does not mean that it does not exist. How much more is there that we have not seen, not discovered? I wish you all a wonderful winter solstice spell. Naolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda.

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    Comment number 6.

    "The exposure time of 5 to 10 minutes captured what passed through the field of view during that time."

    Exactly. Which proves that the short, bright streaks in those shots are star trails and only star trails. A meteor traveling across the camera's limited field of view would have left a long streak from one side to the other of the image. No meteor travels so slowly that it wouldn't completely cross the field of view in five or six minutes.

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    Comment number 7.

    I am not disputing the star trails. You appear to be missing the point. The meteor travelling across the camera's limited field of view would have left a long streak from one side to the other of the image. (NONSENSE)

    It is entirely the opposite and you do not understand the principles of photography. The camera will only record something which remains still for long enough. Anything of extreme high speed requires a fast shutter speed or flash photography.

    The only thing which left a long streak was an aircraft which can be clearly seen in one of the images as a straight line with a series of dots. The aircraft was travelling at high speed but nowhere near the speed of a meteor. the aircraft is barely visible. The fact that the geminid trail is not there does not mean that it was not there. You are disputing the fact that the meteor shower existed. How many people sat at home, did not see the shower but know it happened. I could have pointed the camera at any of them in their living room with the field of view covering the sky out of a large window. I could have exposed the image for ten minutes. If that person decided to get up after the shutter was opened and walked around in front of the camera at speed, they would not register on the image. Would you then say they were not there? and I WOULD STILL SAY THE IMAGE CAPTURED GEMINIDS

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    Comment number 8.

    The view of the church is approximately NE and the left hand stars are those of Ursa Major (the Plough). Gemini is in the east at about 30 degrees elevation. The top of the image is about 28 degrees elevation. I would expect to see meteors higher up than this generally but it's still possible to see them this low.

    In the NASA image the long straight lines are a perfect example of meteor trails in a long exposure. I have yet to capture a meteor trail image.

    In good conditions about 4 years ago I had a two hour observing session with a 10 minute exposure every 10 minutes (pointing NE) and did not get any results. I saw plenty but not one image.

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    Comment number 9.

    My point exactly. You have yet to capture a meteor. You saw plenty but not one image. You did capture them, they were there. Take this scenario and try it out at home. Darken a large room and give about 6 people bright torches. Set the camera to bulb and infinity. Expose for 10 minutes. Ask some people to walk slowly around the room. Ask one person to run straight across the field of view at speed. Your slow movers will register. The high speed star amongst them will not. Was that person there? Did they cross the field of view? Do they exist? YES YES YES. This is the joy of the universe, the one thing, the one place that we have yet to master. I FEEL AN EPISODE OF DR WHO COMING ON

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    Comment number 10.

    If you look at the image 'stars 1' and zoom in on it, you will clearly see a horizontal streak of light above the church. It has intermittent dots. This was the flight path and lights of an airplane passing by. It gives you an idea of the length of the exposure. During this time i conservatively estimate that 6 to 8 geminids passed my field of view. Without prior knowledge this is supported by space.coms estimate of 1 to two per minute. The photographer Michael Wesley makes exposure lasting 3 to 5 years. He mounts his camera to buildings such as the museum of modern art. He opens the shutter and for 3 to five years the camera makes the exposure. What you see is buildings being erected, the path of the sun over each of the years and you can see which were the cloudy days with no sun. Millions of people would have been present in New York in the field of view of his camera yet not one registers. Google Photographer Michael Wesley and you are in for a treat.

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    Comment number 11.

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    Comment number 12.

    A discussion ends when one party refuses to accept the other's point of view. As a photographer of 40 years and an amateur astronomer of 5 years I know where I stand.

    Check out this link for some advice....
    http://www.astropix.com/HTML/I_ASTROP/TRIPOD/TRIPOD6.HTM

    And re-read/re-think your comments on long exposures.

    You can point a camera at the sky but you can't guarantee that's where the the little fellahs will appear....

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    Comment number 13.

    "The fact that the geminid trail is not there does not mean that it was not there. You are disputing the fact that the meteor shower existed."

    I never said (nor would I) that the Geminids didn't happen. My point is that there are no Geminid meteors visible in your photos. The author of this article put up two photos claiming meteors were visible in them, but the only celestial objects visible in them are stars. The image caption claiming, "The meteors passing over the church," is inaccurate, as it implies those bright, short visible lines are meteors and not stars.

    Why some people get rude and make bad assumptions when confronted with facts they don't like is beyond me, but honestly there's no need for it. Good day sir, and better luck photographing those meteors next shower.

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    Comment number 14.

    I have to disagree with the comments that "A discussion ends when one party refuses to accept the other's point of view" I also take issue with the statement that there are no meteors visible in your photos. I have given my explanation and the caption meteors passing over the church is correct. It is accurate and does not imply that the bright short trails are meteors not stars. It clearly implies that the images captured the geminids. You can be a photographer of 75 years and it would not make a jot of difference, you may never see the light. As with anything, the self professed experts protest when faced with anything which questions their authority. I do not need any luck in photographing the meteors. I succeeded where others have failed and I guess this hurts.

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    Comment number 15.

    The article at http://www.astropix.com/HTML/I_ASTROP/TRIPOD/TRIPOD6.HTM is very useful however it fails to deal with any of the points which I have been making. I will state one more time. I made a 5 to 10 minute exposure of the night sky which is clearly obvious from the light trails of the stars, the aircraft and the absorbed street lighting illuminating the church. You have agreed and most of the relevant material including the article you kindly directed me to confirms that a clear visual record of the meteors is not an easy thing to achieve and can appear as a long trail or a small point depending on the lens, depth of fiel, exposure time and ISO of the camera amongst other things. The FACT remains that the meteors passed over the church and that they were captured during the exposures. The camera recorded what my naked eye saw during that time and considerably more because of the camera's greater capabilities. I maintain that you have failed to understand the principles of photography and the are governed by what is visible rather than what exists and occurs. I believe that you will need all the luck in the world to capture one of the meteors given your views and that even if one landed in your back garden you would question its existence. I am quite happy to keep this discussion going however I do not feel obliged to accept anyone's point of view. There are plenty of places for this sort of discussion which usually come under some form of label or title ranging from Parliament, local authority, loyal order of mousse or whatever name makes them feel comfortable and secure with their knowledge or beliefs. I avoid them like the plague.

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    Comment number 16.

    Sir, there is no visible meteor trail across either of the above images. In what reality do you live in that you can validly consider something photographed when it does not appear in the picture?

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    Comment number 17.

    I do not need to say anymore. You have managed to convince me that you have absolutely no concept of reality.

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    Comment number 18.

    "The camera will only record something which remains still for long enough. Anything of extreme high speed requires a fast shutter speed or flash photography."

    Not true. If it is bright enough then it will record even if it is only a brief event. More so if you set your ISO speed higher.

    There are no meteors visible in these photos. To say that they happened but did not record in the photo and present this as evidence is one of the most ludicrous arguments I have ever encountered.

    I am afraid noahelkanahpops that you have been pwned.

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    Comment number 19.

    Thanks everyone for your support of my opening comment. It's been somewhat entertaining....

  • rate this
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    Comment number 20.

    My vocabulary has been expanded today. In the gaming world...

    "Pwned" = Completely annihilated or dominated.

 

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