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Space Science

Astronomer Photographs Meteor Through Telescope 81

Posted by samzenpus
from the expensive-camera dept.
Matt Rogers writes "Amateur astronomer Mike Hankey may be the first person on earth to take a picture of a fireball meteor through a telescope. The picture has been confirmed authentic by numerous professional astronomers and asteroid hunters. This picture could possibly be the first of its kind. Taking a picture of a meteor is a very difficult thing to do, taking a picture of a meteor through a telescope is near impossible. The hunt is on in southern PA for the meteorites that broke away from this space rock. Using Hankey's picture, as well as security tape, meteorite hunters have been able to narrow down the crash site to a smaller area. Even with the trajectory roughly determined, professional meteorite hunters think finding these meteorites may be near impossible. However if they are found they will be immensely valuable and could be very large."
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Astronomer Photographs Meteor Through Telescope

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  • Mr Hankey (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:02PM (#28790593)
    I'll bet that when you look through Mr Hankey's telescope you get a brown ring around your eye.
    • Burkina Faso? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by quenda (644621)

      "The hunt is on in southern PA"

      Where on earth is that? Port Arthur? Burkina Faso?
      It it hard enough to keep up with computer acronyms, so I don't really want to learn all the world's postcodes.
      Please use English translation in the summary where possible. That also applies to "thru"(sic) :-)

      • by Gabrill (556503)

        PA is the abbreviation for the United State of Pennsylvania, in the New England area of Northeastern U.S.A.

        I infer from your post that you have not graduated from a US grade school (not a bad thing if you are not a US citizen).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by th1nk (575552)

          PA is the abbreviation for the United State of Pennsylvania, in the New England area of Northeastern U.S.A.

          I infer from your post that you have not graduated from a US grade school (not a bad thing if you are not a US citizen).

          PA is not in New England.

        • by Chabo (880571)

          As a former resident of New England, I thank you not to include *shudder* Pennsylvania as a member of our fine region.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ezzzD55J (697465)

        2-letter acronyms for the US states are so common, and so easy to recognize from context, that I don't think it's unreasonable. I'm not American and I picked up on it instantly. (Anecdotal, I know.)

  • If it wasn't for TFA, I don't think I ever would have worked out from the picture that it was a meteorite. It's like taking a picture of a blurred rock and claiming it's the fricken moon or something.

    Those amazing astronomer's and there cookey lookey-up-close things...
  • by Jon Abbott (723) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:16PM (#28790691) Homepage

    I have photographed a truly marvelous picture of a meteor, which this margin is too narrow to contain.

  • Wake up, editors. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    'thru'? O'rly?

  • Seriously now... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Ambvai (1106941)
    Seriously now...
    Taking a picture of a meteor is a very difficult thing to do, taking a picture of a meteor thru a telescope is near impossible.
    Have we fallen so far?
  • One time I was looking at sunspots through my small scope, and a flaming meteor just happened to pass within the view as I was watching... it was so cool.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:46PM (#28790913)

    Whoa! I just photographed a m

  • Looking through my 10 inch Dobsonian a few nights ago I saw not 1, not 2, but three meteors pass through my view (lowest power eyepiece). I think it was rather unusual I have to say.

  • by fireman sam (662213) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:49PM (#28790927) Homepage Journal

    Here is another picture of a meteor, this one is much clearer and you can easily see what the meteor is made of:

    http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/1/3008/3861/7519430001_large.jpg [cardomain.com]

  • makes me smile (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JeffSh (71237) <jeffslashdot@@@m0m0...org> on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:49PM (#28790933)

    I can tell from reading his blog post that Mike is very excited to be wrapped up in this whirlwind affair of being the first person in the world to ever catch a meteorite through a telescope, the guy is absolutely giddy in his writing and awe of the world wide attention. It has a sort of innocence about it that is rather charming. It absolutely comes through in his writing, reading it makes me smile from how genuine it comes across. He's in for some fun and exhausting times for the next few days. he must be having a hard time sleeping and all that, how exciting for him, way to go mike!

  • by mbone (558574) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:54PM (#28790957)

    Meteors get images in astronomical photo's all of the time - they do, after all, tend to be time exposure, frequently quiet long. There
    have been lots of these.

    It looks, from this image, that this was possibly a bolide and that there were pieces coming off. (It also could have been a re-entering satellite.) I don't see what that tells you about the orbit of the meteor, except that it passed through a patch of sky. Meteor patrols, such as the Prairie Network and the one at Ondrejov Observatory in the former Czechoslovakia, used wide-angle cameras with rotating fans in front of the telescope, so you can determine the velocity of the bolide from the breaks in the streak. So, I doubt this picture helps to determine the orbit of the meteor much. Survellience camera images would be much more useful - it is fairly routine now-a-days for local imagery to determine the orbit of meteorites well enough to find falls.

    Also, while it is true that some meteorites are very expensive, that is precisely because they are rare. The chances of this body, assuming it reached the ground, being rare are also rare.

    If anyone reading this does find pieces, try not to touch them and use tongs or a shovel etc. to put them into a baggy or baggies. If they are fresh, seal these and put them in the freezer. That will reduce contamination and this enhance their scientific usefulness. Pictures of the pieces on the ground before they are moved would also be good.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by MetBlog (1602873)
      You're right it could have been space debris from a satellite or rocket. However most agree it's most likely a meteor fireball and not flaming space junk. A "meteor" doesn't have an orbit. A meteoroid (asteroid) does have an orbit while in space. A meteorite is the rock that survives impact with the Earth. And a meteor is the fiery phenomena while entering our atmosphere, better known as a shooting star. Meteors are usually seen in meteor showers such as the famous Leonids, and Perseids meteor showers. Mete
  • by syousef (465911) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @11:03PM (#28791027) Journal

    It's common for amateur astronomers to do meteor photography but they do not use telescopes. Instead they use wide angle lenses on a camera to improve their chances of a meteor being caught on film (digital or otherwise). The reason it hasn't been done before is that it would be very frustrating and you'd need to take a lot of pictures before statistically expecting to capture one meteor. Despite that I'm very surprised it hasn't been done before (and I have a degree in Astronomy, though I must admit meteors were never one of my principle interests).

    Clearly it's exciting because if you can get a closer look at something you can learn more about it. As for it being just a streak, I doubt there's a camera on Earth that'll catch anything more than a streak using current techniques. Meteors are both faint and very fast moving. Either one you can compensate for but both...that's a challenge.

  • Awesome. (Score:5, Informative)

    by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @11:40PM (#28791275) Homepage
    It has always been my personal belief that everyone should own a telescope so that they can look at the vastness and complexity of our universe in awe when they see it with their own eyes. You probably won't be able to replicate this photo, but I just got my Galileoscope, a simple backyard 50mm achromatic refractor which the International Astronomer's Union is selling for $12.95. It's not the greatest telescope in the world, but for an amateur stargazer, it's perfect... and it's thirteen dollars. Plus, the whole thing is non-profit. https://www.galileoscope.org/gs/ [galileoscope.org]
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by qmaqdk (522323)

      ... and it's thirteen dollars. Plus, the whole thing is non-profit.

      https://www.galileoscope.org/gs/ [galileoscope.org]

      But, it seems, exclusive to the US. Know of anything similar in Europe and the rest of the world?

      • by qmaqdk (522323)

        But, it seems, exclusive to the US. Know of anything similar in Europe and the rest of the world?

        Argh. Sorry. They do deliver elsewhere.

    • by Inda (580031)
      Amen brother.

      I live in the urban concrete jungle but went to stay with my father in the countryside a few years back. During the evening I remarked about how many stars there were in the sky. My father disappeared, only to return a minute later with a pair of binoculars. These binoculars weren't anything special, probably 10x-12x, I don't know.

      Never have I seen a sight like it. There were thousands upon thousands upon thousands of stars.

      Every return visit, I always grab the binoculars off the hook.
    • Just sent my nephews a pair of them :)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Many 'amateur' astronomers are not amateur at all. And when the world's largest telescopes have full schedules targeting deep space mysteries and other weird objects, the 'common' celestial targets are ignored. Amateur astronomers don't ignore such things, they spend a lot of time and effort to observe them.

    For example, the planet Jupiter.

    Here's a discovery made by another amateur, Anthony Wesley. An impact mark on Jupiter, similar to Shoemaker-Levy which occurred back in 1994. And here's the link [samba.org].

    I didn't

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Archon-X (264195)

      I didn't see anything about it in /. Why?

      ..perhaps because you're too busy writing smary comments to search?
      http://science.slashdot.org/story/09/07/20/0114250/Something-May-Have-Just-Hit-Jupiter [slashdot.org]

    • by mbone (558574)

      Many 'amateur' astronomers are not amateur at all.

      Note that 'amateur' comes from the French for "lover" and has a primary meaning someone who loves what they are doing, someone who is not paid being a secondary meeting. I would say that almost all astronomers are amateur. Some are even paid for doing it as well.

      Amateur astronomers in the "unpaid" sense make many discoveries and (if they know what they are doing) tend to get a high regard from the professional astronomical community.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by orkybash (1013349)

        Note that 'amateur' comes from the French for "lover" and has a primary meaning someone who loves what they are doing, someone who is not paid being a secondary meeting. I would say that almost all astronomers are amateur. Some are even paid for doing it as well.

        Argh, no! The English definition of Amateur (from Dictionary.com) is the following:

        1. a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons. Compare professional.
        2. an athlete who has never competed for payment or for a monetary prize.
        3. a person inexperienced or unskilled in a particular activity: Hunting lions is not for amateurs.
        4. a person who admires something; devotee; fan: an amateur of the cinema.

        Your definition is the fourth down, under three definitions that state either lack of skill or lack of pay. Are you telling me that 1 through 3 are only "secondary definitions?" Because I think it's the other way around. Please do not confuse etymology with definition, either unintentionally or (as I see so often) as a rhetorical trick. The former is somewhat interesting, but only useful in this context if we happen to b

        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          Also not that only ONE of those definitions actually implies a lack of skill. All Olympians are ametures, but only a fool would say they are not among the most skilled in the world at what they do (perhaps with the exception of the combat sports).

  • Astronomers (whether amateur or pro.) frequently get meteor trails or satellite trails in photos. if they are too intrusive the shot is often discarded as a failure. I have had many images inadvertently capture things like this - it's just pure dumb luck. I've also occasionally made an effort, when a meteor shower is expected, to put a digital camera in the garden to repeatedly photograph the part of the sky where meteors should occur. Guess what? I get some!

    Looking at this accidental photograph, the trai

    • Looking at this accidental photograph, the trail does look quite bright and shows other trails running parallel to the main one. Where I live, this happens when you get an aircraft running across the field of view.

      Since the article says that many others, including some security cameras, saw the same bolide, the "airplane" interpretation is ruled out even without paying attention to the fact that the meteor did not have red and green navigation lights on its wingtips.

    • 1st doing this with a camera lens is no big deal. Doing it with a telescope is. Please post some images like this from a google images search for 'fireball meteor' and we'll see how often it has happened before. Also regarding the plane read this email thread posted on mike's site: http://www.mikesastrophotos.com/baltimore-pa-meteor/mason-dixon-medeorite-photo-confirmed-by-leading-asteroid-hunter/ [mikesastrophotos.com] Its from the astronomer who detected TC3 (an asteroid that crashed into earth). "I am an astronomer with the

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