Long Lasting Meteor

At 20:05 on 14 February 2016 my video meteor observatory saw and captured this meteor for a total of just over 5 seconds. This is an usually long time for a a meteor, especially as it looks as if the meteor leaves the frame while it is still visible. The software analyses it as an Epsilon Columbid: a member of a minor shower occurring around this time of year. it seems to have been about magnitude 0—bright but certainly not a fireball. There is no “parent body” known for this shower. Most meteor showers are caused by a trail of debris (dust and small grains) left behind in its orbit by a comet or asteroid. These tiny particles burn up when the earth crosses the orbit later and they fall into the upper atmosphere.

The software was able to estimate the first part of its path over the ground:


when it went out of frame it was probably quite close to the coast, near the Suffolk/Norfolk border. An accurate ground map and orbit will only be possible if it was caught by at least one other video observatory, which we will not know for a while. All my data goes to the UK Meteor Network, and is then deposited in EDMOND: a huge and growing database of meteors observed by video, which has contributors mainly in Europe and Brazil and in other countries, most of whom are amateurs. Researchers use this data to study the orbits and nature of meteors.

There is probably not anything particularly significant about this meteor, just another tiny piece of debris, left behind by a comet or small asteroid but it’s long and quite slow track across the sky (To give an idea of scale, the two bright stars it passes early in its trail are Regulus and Al gieba – alpha and gamma – in the constellation of Leo)