Colorado-based photographer Dean Rowe recently captured the spectacular sight of a colorful Rainbow Geminid Meteor streaking across the sky during December’s Geminid meteor shower. The image was shared on NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day earlier this month, and includes a helpful explanation from a professional astronomer:
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The radiant grit cast off by asteroid 3200 Phaethon blazed a path across Earth’s atmosphere longer than 60 times the angular diameter of the Moon. Colors in meteors usually originate from ionized elements released as the meteor disintegrates, with blue-green typically originating from magnesium, calcium radiating violet, and nickel glowing green. Red, however, typically originates from energized nitrogen and oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Rowe, the photographer who documented this ephemeral moment, shares with Colossal that he has been interested in photography and astronomy since his early teens. He built his own telescope at the age of 13 which included grinding and polishing the mirror lens by hand. After a career in software engineering, Rowe has been investing in photography in retirement, with a focus on the wide world of nature. In addition to night and astrophotography, Rowe also frequently photographs hummingbirds in flight. You can see more of his work on his website, where prints are available for purchase, and his Facebook page.