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Meteor over Harvard Square. A super-rare meteor photograph.

(LCD screen view of uncropped image) An extraordinary photo of a meteor streaking over Harvard Square taken January 29, 2011. Photographer Brad Kelly was late for a movie in Harvard Sq. and instead managed to capture this rare photo of a meteor passing over Harvard University's Holyoke Center and the Cambridge Savings Bank building.



Other reports around the same same time of what was likely the same object in the sky:


This is a cell phone snapshot of the lcd screen of my "real" Nikon camera showing the photo of the meteor over Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA, on Saturday, January 29, 2011, at approximately 8:29pm. I haven't transferred the photo from my camera's memory card yet.


I missed the movie I had been planning to see, so instead, I walked around Harvard Square with my camera and tripod taking some photos and I happened to get lucky with the camera in the right place at the right time. One in a million...




My "Meteor Over Harvard Square" makes The Worldwide Meteor/Meteorite News. Interesting analysis of the cloud layers:




In light of interest in this photo and inquiries from around the world asking me about the time and other details for scientific reasons way above my head mathematically and theoretically...


This may be helpful for you meteor tracking aficionados:


Time stamp info is not really crucial to my normal photography and when I noticed the neon bank clock in the photo reads 8:29pm and the time stamp 8:34pm I decided to check my camera's clock. This may be useful for your calculations/simulation:


The image stamp on the photo reads: 20:34:12 indicating a time of 8:34:12sec PM EST that the photo was taken. Most online meteor sighting reports in the area indicated a time closer to 8:30pm as the time of the widespread meteor sightings in the Massachusetts and surrounding New England areas on January 29th, 2011.


I checked my camera's clock against the The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) clock online and found that my camera is set 3 minutes and 25 sec FAST relative to the official NIST time.


Since it was an eight second exposure and since the Nikon D300 seems to time-stamp at the beginning of the exposure (I just ran a test on my camera to check that) it means that the meteor was visible over Harvard Square in Cambridge sometime precisely between 8:30:47sec PM EST and 8:30:55pm when I snapped the eight second exposure.


(For what it's worth, the Cambridge Savings Bank digital clock, clearly visible in the original hi-res photo, reads 8:29. So it is presumably at least 47 sec slow in relation to official NIST time!)


Note: I've marked on the map the approximate position in Harvard Sq. where my tripod was standing when I took the original photo.


Copyright ©Brad Kelly ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Taken on January 29, 2011