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Time-Lapse Photographer Captures Stunning Meteor Explosion While Fast Asleep

One cold night a few weeks ago, photographer Matthew Vandeputte set a time-lapse running and went to bed for the night. In the morning, he discovered that his sequence had captured an incredible meteor crashing into the Earth’s atmosphere, creating a stunning trail and leaving a spectacular puff of smoke. If only we could all shoot images like this while unconscious.

As detailed on his blog, Vandeputte was traveling through Utah with the intention of shooting a load of astrophotography time-lapses. At 1 AM, he set his camera to take an eight-second photograph every nine seconds and went to bed, waking four hours later in order to retrieve his gear. After a few more hours of sleep, he reviewed his images and found a remarkable result.

As well as a fascinating natural phenomenon, for me, it’s a reminder that photographers make their own luck. I remember reading about a photographer a few years ago who had managed to capture some unlikely combination of shooting stars and aurora, explaining that he got lucky. My reaction was that it’s not luck if you’re camping out in sub-zero temperatures and pointing your camera at the night sky — it’s hard work, even if you're fast asleep. To paraphrase that much-quoted aphorism frequently misattributed to Thomas Jefferson: the harder you work, the luckier you get.

Courtesy of Matthew Vandeputte.

Vandeputte kindly details a lot of his gear and methodology on his website, so if you want to try and replicate this footage of a bolide as it plows into the earth’s atmosphere, be sure to check it out. If you have any questions or thoughts on how this was captured, leave a comment below.

Image used with permission of Matthew Vandeputte.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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This is mind blowing phenomenal! The time lapse is beautiful already. I’m very impressed.

That's pretty bonkers. Love it.

Awesome stuff that, the whole video was great.

There was another of those "tiny flashes" near the top left at 2:19 - 2:20. Maybe a sensor thing? or a shooting star aimed directly at camera?
Awesome seeing stuff like this on camera

I wonder if those flashes might be a satellite turning and glinting a reflect of sunlight?

When they do that it's usually brighter and satellites move so quickly it would have some slight movement across the exposure

Good to know, thanks!

Really love these kinds of articles compared to "12 Ways to Supercharge Your Instagram Feed!"

I wish sharing content like this did supercharge peoples' Instagram feeds. We'd have more people sharing fascinating natural phenomenon and less useless crap.

While it's more of a "puff" than a "Stunning Meteor Explosion", it's certainly still fascinating to view.