Meteor, Crater

By Phil Plait | April 25, 2012 9:12 am

Brad Goldpaint thinks he’s the luckiest guy on Earth. He says that because he’s a photographer, and he was thrilled that after waiting a long time to get a good shot at Crater Lake, Oregon, the weather cleared up just in time for annual Lyrid meteor shower.

It’s hard to argue, especially when he says he saw only one meteor the whole night… and it looked like this:

Nice! [Click to calderenate.]

Crater Lake is an ancient volcano of such surpassing beauty that it’s no exagerration to say that when I visited there years ago, it changed my outlook on life.

The Lyrids are a weak meteor shower occurring every year in April. The shower does sometimes produce bright fireballs like the one Brad captured above, but usually most of the meteors are relatively faint. By the way, that fireball you may have heard about over California a couple of days ago happened during the Lyrids, but that was almost certainly a coincidence; that exploding chunk of rock was the size of a car when it came in, while meteor shower meteoroids are usually smaller than a grain of sand.

Anyway, I disagree with Brad. He’s not lucky. By taking so many pictures, by persevering, by always being out there, eventually this wonderful happenstance was inevitable. He made his own luck; chance favors the well-prepared.

By not-a-big-coincidence, this image was also on APOD today! Check out the Related Posts just below for more of Brad’s astonishing sky photography.

Related Posts:

Rekindled flame
Galactic arch over the conjunction
The skies reflect our spinning world
Well, at least light pollution makes for a pretty time lapse

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures

Comments (14)

  1. Mejilan

    Insanity. I LOVE this man’s photos!
    Thank you for sharing.
    That three year old article about your trip to Crater Lake was also an experience. :)

  2. cope

    A nice picture but I would be interested to know how he built this “…composite of nine exposures…” (as per APODs description). His website didn’t say.

    I know you have touched on this subject recently but I am teaching an honors level high school astronomy course and am somewhat conflicted when I show stunning images but then have to walk things back a bit and explain that they are false color or composites or say “No, that’s not what you would see if you could go there”.

    I understand the value of these kinds of images (and use them all the time) but many of them do need careful explanation if I am going to stay intellectually honest with my students.

  3. John Baxter

    It has been far too long since my (only) Crater Lake visit. That was either in the late 1940s or very early 1950s. The ranger’s talk at the dock was interrupted by the (hand crank) fire phone (the only phone). The call was long distance from Hawaii for one of the people in our group. Rather startling for that time.

    Crater Lake is such a wonderful place.

  4. Woah… That’s just stunning :O

  5. VinceRN

    Crater lake, especially at night, should be on everyone’s “bucket list”. Staggeringly beautiful and easily accessible.

  6. Grizzly

    My memory of Crater Lake was camping there with my twin sons when they were 6. We watched a summer meteor shower from our tent and floated rocks on the lake (pummice) and investigated why rocks could float. “Dad? Science is so coool!” Yes, yes indeed it is.

  7. tmac57

    My wife and I visited Crater Lake in the summer of 1997.There was still some snow in the shady areas alongside the road leading up to the crater,and it was a cool,crisp and clear, blue-sky, sunny day.You could not see the lake while ascending the mountain road up to the rim,but when we crested the rim,what a stunning sight to behold!!!The thing that struck me the most,was the impossibly deep blue of the lake.It was unlike anything that I had ever seen.It was one of the peak moments in my life where nature is concerned.
    I would urge anyone who has a chance to see this jewel of Oregon,to make sure to not miss it.I only now,after seeing that photo above,wish that we could have also seen it on a clear night.Simply breathtaking!

  8. Matthew

    I visited Crater Lake when I was 10 with my family. I don’t remember too much, but I do know it was fairly impressive, and that there was snow there.
    I also saw Mt St Helens, which was also fairly impressive.
    I would love to go there again, and also see Meteor Crater, which we missed due to a broken transmission. :-(
    (we crawled from Denver to LA in 2nd gear with no aircon in the middle of summer!)
    Fantastic photo anyway, it is now my desktop background!

  9. MadScientist

    I’m curious about the claim that the California fireball was a coincidence; is enough known about its trajectory to discard it as a Lyrid?

  10. Messier Tidy Upper

    Great photo – cheers. :-)

    .. especially when he says he saw only one meteor the whole night…

    Isn’t that kinda unusual for a meteor shower; esp. a famous one like the Lyrids? More a meteor drop than a shower! ūüėČ

    Was this years Lyrids display an especially poor or unfavourable one?

    (The Lyrids are not one I’ve seen – unfavourable latitude with the radiant mostly below the horizon here in South Oz. Plus been rainy and cloudy last few days here.)

  11. Nigel Depledge

    What a superb photo!

  12. Nigel Depledge

    VinceRN (5) said:

    Staggeringly beautiful and easily accessible.

    I agree with the first, but the second is relative. There are a couple of little obstacles (the Atlantic Ocean and the bulk of the continental US) between where I live and Oregon.

  13. Ostsol

    I now have a new desktop background image. :)

  14. Jay Fox

    A guy found a piece of the “California Fireball.” Several, actually, as reported in the news. It appears to be a CC type meteorite, very, very old. Aren’t those from the annual shower bits & pieces of comet? If so, they definitely would not be related to each other.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar