Geminid Meteor

The Geminid meteor stream was at its peak last night and predictions were for a high hourly rate, especially after midnight.

I took a series of non-tracking fifteen-second images between 11.22 pm and 11.56 pm, during which I visually observed no meteors, which I blamed on persistent hazy clouds and a limited view of the target area. However, in one image I picked up a streak, which I believe was a Geminid.

2015-12-14 Geminid Meteor & Aldebran in Taurus
2015-12-14 Geminid Meteor passing Aldebran in Taurus. The Pleidaes are lower left and the Orion constellation is upper right. (15 sec exposure, 24 mm, f/1.8, ISO 1000). Frame size 74 degrees x 53 degrees.
2015-12-14 Geminid Meteor & Aldebran in Taurus cropped 1000
2015-12-14 Geminid Meteor Aldebran in Taurus cropped

My reasoning for attributing this faint streak to a Geminid meteor:

  1. The camera was pointing to a region of the sky where Geminids were predicted.
  2. The angle of the streak coincides precisely with the angle predicted in SkySafari+ for Geminids passing the bright star Aldebran.
  3. The streak did not appear in either the preceding frame or succeeding frames, all three of fifteen seconds duration and timed at 11.30pm.
  4. A satellite or an aircraft would have left its mark on at least two of the consecutive images. It didn’t.
  5. The object travelled approximately 20 degrees in a period of somewhere between o sec (min) and 15 sec (max).
  6. At that time, only extremely high satellites would be in sunlight and this object moved too quickly for a high orbiting satellite.
  7. No aircraft navigation lights were visible, all the points of light near the trail were visible in other frames and were therefore stars.

Please click on the smaller images below for full size images.


All images © R.Powell


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