Lucky Timelapse Photographer Captures Rarely Seen Meteor Explosion

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If Yogi Berra were a photographer, he’d probably tell you that 90% of a good shot was half luck. Michael Chung experienced that  cocktail of good fortune and proper exposure for himself last week when he sat down to process his images for a time lapse of the annual Perseid meteor shower, and he stumbled onto something spectacular:

Did you see it? A brilliant flash followed by a ring of what looks like smoke expanding outward? That’s a meteor breaking apart, and the resulting ring is something called a “persistent train,” charged gas that’s been heated and giving off electrons. Chung estimates that the whole chain of events—from explosion to the gas dissipating—lasted about 20 minutes. He uploaded four versions of the same sequence for the video above: two at full resolution, the first at 24 fps, the second at 12 fps. Then Chung cropped it down to 720p for a closer look, and played that back at 24 and 12 fps, respectively. That last one—720p at 12 fps—gets you the best look at something incredible happening in the night sky.

Details on this Timelapse Setup:

  • Camera: Canon 7D
  • Lens: Tokina 11mm-16mm/2.8
  • Exposure: 20 sec
  • Iso: 800
  • Aperture: 2.8
  • Focal Length: 11 mm
  • Interval: 22 sec
  • Video Frame Rate: 24fps

Chung himself admits that he got lucky with the this catch, but he couldn’t have picked it up this well if he hadn’t set up his time lapse just right. Even if you know what you’re doing, shooting night-to-day or day-to-night takes a lot of careful set up and preparation. If you’re just starting out with time lapse and want to learn about it in depth, check out this complete guide.

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