Jordan Ragsdale’s recording lasted 27 seconds. The annual phenomenon lasts until August 24, with a peak predicted for August 13 during the next full moon.
BOISE, Idaho – The Perseid meteor shower returned in all its galactic glory on Sunday. This is the time of year when Earth passes through the dust trail left by Comet Swift-Tuttle.
Basically, we were dusted by an ancient comet and every year, barring excessive light pollution, many local astronomers and stargazing enthusiasts try to capture a glimpse of this dust, which we would only see as it enters our atmosphere like a meteor.
Eagle’s Jordan Ragsdale has seen a lot. Over the past year, he’s recorded countless meteors on his outdoor camera – some days as low as 20 – some mornings up to 500.
Well, early Wednesday morning, just after 5 a.m., Ragsdale got more than a glimpse of a meteor, the one he said was the longest he had ever recorded and possibly the longest never recorded.
“This one stood out because it happened on multiple cameras and every time it happens it’s always like, ‘oh, that was a long-travelling meteor.’ It’s kind of unusual that it goes so far, that it goes from one camera angle to another and as I watched more, I was like, ‘wow, that’s four camera angles,’ you know”, said Ragsdale. “Not only that, but it kind of started on the northern horizon and I didn’t even see it finish behind the southern horizon. It went behind a tree before I could see it.”
Ragsdale said 27 seconds is “pretty unusual” for a meteor because most of the time meteors burn up in the atmosphere.
“They call it an Earth grazer, where it just grazes the earth. They even assumed some of it would just escape the atmosphere,” Ragsdale said. “They’ll just light up a bit and that’s enough resistance to send them out of the atmosphere, but this one seems to have just the perfect angle it just went through.”
Ragsdale has his camera mounted on the side of his house. He said the camera usually captures all passing meteors.
“I usually review them over a cup of coffee in the morning because you can walk through them and most of them are just tiny little blips, but once in a while they jump out at you” , said Ragsdale. “You know, if you get a really bright one, that’s exciting, or a really long one, so it’s kind of like a scavenger hunt. You never know what you’re going to find in the morning, so that’s like a little gift while you have your coffee every morning.”
Ragsdale said his camera is connected to a network of hundreds of such cameras which send their videos to a centralized database.
There’s another at Glenns Ferry, Ragsdale said, and they’re compiling the video to see if the meteor he captured is actually one of the longest on record.
The video was sent to NASA to see if it was actually a meteor and part of the Perseid meteor shower.
The annual phenomenon lasts until August 24, with its peak scheduled for August 13. This is when we should see the most meteors burning in the sky. “Should see” is the key phrase here, because tonight – August 13 – aligns with the next full moon.
According to NASA, Sturgeon Moon will appear full for about three days, from Wednesday morning through Saturday morning. These meteors should shine brighter than moonlight, so seeing them shouldn’t be too much of a problem.