Brighter Than the Moon: Camera Captures Brilliant Leonid Fireball

by Nancy Atkinson on November 19, 2012

The Leonid Meteor shower is usually notorious for the bright fireballs it can produce, but this fireball exploded with unexpected brilliance. Fortunately, an all-sky camera captured the event. NASA said there were numerous reports of a bright fireball over northwest Alabama on Sunday, Nov. 18 at approximately 7:30 p.m. EST. A check of the southeastern cameras operated by NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office recorded the fireball, and its outburst was brighter than the Moon. If anyone happened to see this or capture anything similar with your camera, let us know!

Astrophotographers did manage to get some images of the Leonids over the weekend — which, other than this bright fireball — seemed to be relatively quiet. See images below:

A Leonid meteor over Trá Mór, Spiddal, Ireland on November 18, 2012 at 4:45 am local time. Credit: Trevor Durity

Trevor Durity captured a small Leonid fireball in the wee hours of the morning on Nov. 18. “One of the few meteors I saw,” Trevor wrote on Flickr. “Pure luck to have caught it … Appeared at first like a very bright shooting star – went about 10 degrees and blew up.”

Also in the picture are the Gemini twins Castor and Pollux to the top middle, M44 the Beehive Cluster to the lower left; and the bright star Procyon to the lower right of the twins, and Leo the Lion on the left hand side of the picture.

A lone Leonid was captured over Donegal, Ireland. Credit: Brendan Alexander.

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Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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