During the Geminid meteor shower in December 2018, Colorado-based photographer Dean Rowe managed to capture this massive meteor streaking across the sky with a length 60 times the angular diameter of the Moon.
“Colors in meteors usually originate from ionized elements released as the meteor disintegrates, with blue-green typically originating from magnesium, calcium radiating violet, and nickel glowing green,” writes NASA’s APOD. “Red, however, typically originates from energized nitrogen and oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere.
“This bright meteoric fireball was gone in a flash — less than a second — but it left a wind-blown ionization trail that remained visible for several minutes […]”
Rowe had mounted his Canon 5D Mark IV and 24-70mm f/2.8L II lens on his Takahashi NJP equatorial mount to track the Geminids radiant. He was shooting at ISO 1600, 30s, 35mm, and f/2.8.
“My plan was to catch a bunch of meteors and stack them to show all the meteors coming out of the radiant,” the photographer writes. “In going through the images […], I saw this huge fireball with some interesting shock and ionization structures.”
Here’s a time-lapse video Rowe made showing the same meteor — it covers nearly an hour of real time in 11 seconds and is made up of 115 separate 30-second exposures: