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Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Shooting Star and the Milky Way in the Desert

The hideaway spot where we camped to escape the fall break crowds was surrounded by dramatic cliffs, spires, and mesas.

The flat-topped hill in the right of the above photo is what we call "Shyla's Mesa", the place where I love to photograph the Duo sprinting.

The camping spot is like the middle of an amphitheater with a view of a huge dark sky after the sun sets. 
I love taking star photos in that campsite, and my camera is often snapping photos all night while we sleep.

One year, as I set up my camera, a huge meteorite that looked like a "fireball" to me zoomed across the sky leaving a burning trail in its wake. Sadly, I hadn't quite finished setting up my camera so I got no photo of it.

This year, while we slept, a meteorite streaked down from the sky toward the ground. I was overjoyed to capture it - it's the biggest shooting star that my camera has ever recorded! Notice that the view shown here at night is almost the same as the view in the first photo during the daytime.
Over the sequence of exposures after it, I could see the residue of the burning up of the meteorite in the Earth's atmosphere. It's very hard to see in individual photos but is much more obvious when I combine them to make a video.

So, I made a time lapse movie that shows the shooting star and the movement of the Milky Way across the sky that night. It also includes some airplanes which appear as dim lines zipping across the screen. This video encompasses about 4 hours of movement of the stars that night, compressed into a very short video which you can watch here or at Youtube. Be sure to look at the photo of the shooting star so that you know where it was when you watch the video. I also have a very slowed version of the shooting star after the first clip.


  1. Absolutely stunning. That sure is a special place you have there. I'm so pleased you captured the meteorite, thanks for putting the video together and slowing it down. It actually looks like it hit something just before the smoke etc. Fabulous.


  2. Hari OM
    Oh the joys of clear desert skies... YAM xx

  3. OH MY, I had no idea what is going on out there while we are sleeping. I love the time lapse, I would never be able to sit for 4 hours and stare at the sky. beautiful and I love R laughing out loud while running.

  4. I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
    The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullabye....

  5. What a great video. The close ups and slow motion of the meteorite are amazing.

  6. What an amazing sight, a little puff and it is all over. I wonder if the animals know what is happening up there?

  7. The video is absolutely amazing to watch!

  8. Very cool! I am planning on a new camera very soon, one reason is so I can take night shots better. Love this time lapse. Do you use an intervalmeter?

    1. I do (I think it's a Neewer (I'll put the link at the end of this reply), although some cameras have them built in now. Be sure to get one that connects directly to your camera (not a remote one - that'll have a lag time). Here's the link:

  9. Fascinating video. Thank you for taking it and posting it.

  10. That night sky is beyond beautiful!!!

  11. What an awesome capture - especially seeing the smoke from it afterwards!
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

  12. What a fascinating video! What a night sky! Wow!

  13. Love the night sky.
    I have always wanted to see the Northern Lights.
    But the desert sky comes close..

  14. That was just amazing to watch - bet it was incredible in person.

  15. There is so much beauty and magic in the nighttime skies. Truly, truly amazing - I have no words.

  16. Your photography and videos never stop leaving me in awe. Love'em!
    Mom Kim

  17. So now I want a new camera and lens...
    Just lovely!!!!
    Box Canyon

  18. What camera are you using? That's incredible!

  19. Wow! What an amazing video!! Thanks so much for putting it together!

  20. You know how much we love these amazing sky and star videos and photos,,, and your world!


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