Photographer Unknowingly Captures A Rare Event Astronomers Wait Decades To See

October 20, 2014

An amateur photographer unknowingly captured a bolide fireball, a rare event that astronomers wait decades to see, let alone photograph.

A fireball is another term for a very bright meteor, which is about the same brightness as the planet Venus in the morning or evening sky. A bolide is a special type of fireball which explodes in a bright terminal flash at its end, often with visible fragmentation.

Ben Lewis was camping in Ashton-Wildwood County Park, Iowa, and before bed, aimed his camera at a clearing in the trees. He let it record all night and had no idea what he had captured until he shared the photos on reddit.

Here is the timelapse video:

This bolide fireball occurred on October 16th, 2014 between 4:30am and 4:50am.

Meteors are fairly common, but ones large enough to leave a trail of vaporized iron visible in the atmosphere are not. Capturing a timelapse is about the equivalence of spotting Bigfoot.

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