Leonid Meteor Shower 2011 – “A Look Back”

A storm system sitting over the eastern US finally started to pull out as the sun began to set. After a 2 hour drive to a darker location, we were greeted by a two rounds of light pillars! I haven’t seen them in such a long time, so it was such a blessing. We counted many Leonids, a few Orionids and some random meteors. I also saw a Leonid Fireball around 4:20am that lit up the sky creating shadows and a smoke trail which lasted close to 45 seconds. It was an incredible night!

Pillars of Light

Light Pillars can easily be confused with the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), I think we can all see why.  A light pillar is an atmospheric phenomenon created by the reflection of light from fine ice crystals. The conditions on the ground and in the sky need to be in harmony for this to happen. I rarely get a opportunity to photograph these wonders and it was really neat.  Light Pollution is an enemy of mine, but here it kind of did me a photographic favor.

Leonid Meteor Shower 2011

As the front cleared the temperatures dropped into the 20’s! Winds were gusting to 30mph at times creating wind chills in the teens. We were out from 6pm until 6:30am attempting to capture some Leonids on camera. We succeeded too! Everyone got meteor shots! Todd got his first meteor within the first 10 minutes! It took me a little longer to get my first meteor and I’m fine with that :).  We counted a decent amount of meteors Thursday into Friday morning, but it was certainly lower than I thought it would be. The place I decided on worked out perfectly, the skies were crystal clear and we captured a few meteors on with our camera. With those three things working out I would call this year’s Leonid Meteor Shower Workshop a great success!

Below: The first time I saw this meteor was when I came home and looked through my photos. Surprise!!

Leonid Meteor at 5:43am - November 18th, 2011

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Space Shuttle Discovery’s Last Transit Over the United States

Photo of the Day: 3.10.2011

Discovery’s Final Transit  

3.8.2011  –  7:23:24pm to 7:25:49pm EDT.  Chester County, PA

It’s was upsetting to know that Tuesday night would be the last time to see the Space Shuttle Discovery in the night skies over my town. I was 4 years old when Discovery first launched in 1984 and it’s sad to see something I’ve known for so many years retire. I have only seen it once in person when I was very young, but yet there was something about that visit to the Kennedy Space Center that inspired me. I can still picture clearly the Discovery being slowly rolled out to the launch site as a kid in the 80’s and I feel very fortunate to be able to photograph its final transit last night. The clouds parted briefly allowing me the two minutes I needed for this shot. I think the clouds added some interesting colors to the image and the crescent moon was a special bonus on a special night. The space shuttle Discovery and the ISS sweeping by the Pleiades with the hanging crescent moon and moon corona setting in the west. You can’t beat that for a farewell to almost three decades of service and 39 missions under the belt. Hope you enjoy this image as much as I enjoy creating it.

 Thanks Discovery! You will be missed!