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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Amazing Astrophotography: Perseids, Fireball, Aurorae, and Weird Clouds

By Phil Plait

OK, I can’t resist: Above is another beautiful Perseid meteor photo, taken by Göran Strand in Sweden on Thursday. I love the colors in this one! In the original shot, you can see the stars of the Big Dipper above it, too.

But there’s more. See that green band above the horizon on the left? That’s the aurora! And not only that, but the weird, twisted, glowing clouds you can see near it are noctilucent clouds, a rare sight. These are very high altitude clouds made of very tiny ice crystals. They reflect sunlight, but are so faint they can only be seen when the Sun is below the horizon. Being at high latitudes (like Sweden!) helps too.

Pretty amazing. But there’s still one more thing. Strand was taking some footage of the area around his campsite when he spotted a very bright fireball, called a bolide. Here’s the video … but apparently I need to warn you; if you speak Swedish, there are some dirty words in this.

I don’t blame him. If I saw a bolide that bright, I’d swear in Swedish too!

Incidentally, he told me that the fireball was widely reported and appeared in the Norwegian Meteor Network reports, too. There’s stunning video of it, too!

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