Liverpool Telescope captures a bright meteor fireball

Whilst monitoring the Draconid meteor shower recently, the SkyCamT camera on the Liverpool Telescope captured an impressive meteor fireball that resulted in a spectacular ionisation trail that lasted for at least 9 minutes. Ionisation trails are created when the molecules in the upper atmosphere are ionised by the passage of the meteor. The meteor burst and trail were recorded on the night of the 8th October, and over ten frames, by the 20° field-of-view camera. Two of those frames can be seen below. The left-hand image shows the meteor event itself, whilst the right-hand image shows the debris cloud (meteor dust and ionised molecules) as 2-3 bright knots drifting to the south west of the fireball point (as arrowed).

Image of meteor
LT SkyCamT images showing the meteor fireball and subsequent ionisation trail
Credit: Geert Barentsen / Liverpool Telescope

Subsequent images show that the trail stretched out to form a long 'n' shape in the upper atmosphere. The evolution of the trail can be seen in the following animation (3.1 MB) of all 9 images captured by the LT. If you look carefully, you may see a second, but fainter, meteor event in the animation. This also resulted in an ionisation trail that evolved over time to form a distinctive n-shape pattern. The second event and trail can be seen above and to the left of the original one.

> View Draconid Meteor Burst Animation