Meteorite Strike or Hoax?

image Wayne Pryde believes that he has taken the first photograph ever to capture the image of a meteorite striking the earth. He was taking pictures of clouds when he happened to get this photograph of what might be a grain-of-sand-sized meteorite hitting the Earth. But meteor experts aren't so sure. They're not yet crying hoax (Mr. Pryde swears that he hasn't digitally altered the photo), but they don't think the photo shows a meteor impact. However, they have no idea what else it might be. The Astronomy Picture of the Day site has put up a hi-res version of the image and is asking for help from the internet community. Maybe somebody online can figure out what this thing is.

Photos Science

Posted on Wed Dec 08, 2004

More content from the Hoax Museum:


"The light pole near the flash has been inspected and does not show any damage, although the light inside was not working."

Maybe he caught the light just as it was burning out. Whenever my lights die they come on & sort of 'pop' off in a flash. That part of the picture at least seems real. The meteor's 'trail' leading down to the pole wouldn't have been caught. That part of the image DOES seem dubious.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Wed Dec 08, 2004  at  12:24 PM
It was aliens! Miniture aliens from the tiny planet Hugo Mongus 9 that came to earth to attack it. but were instead eaten by a small dog!
Posted by Fay-Fay  on  Wed Dec 08, 2004  at  06:35 PM
The trail would have to be caught in a long exposure photograph, since it'd be hard for him to snap a picture of a meteroite the size of a grain of sand that quick. Also the tail should've been illuminated. I really doubt it was a meteroite.
Posted by Myoats  on  Thu Dec 09, 2004  at  06:26 AM
If you look at the hi-res version of the image the flash is almost dead centre. I'm always suspicious of pictures where something unexpected appears nearly perfectly framed. What are the chances of photographing a meteorite and what are the chances of it being perfectly framed as well?
Posted by Lord Lucan  in  somewhere strange  on  Thu Dec 09, 2004  at  07:03 AM
The way most astrophotograhpers capture them is by leaving a camera on long exposure around the expected time it happens, as is the case of meteor showers. But the chance of a split second capture must be near impossible.
Posted by Myoats  on  Thu Dec 09, 2004  at  11:51 PM
I just looked at the Australian news report. It says:

"Experts believe the meteorite may not have hit the lamp post, but metal elsewhere on the wharf.

Mr Pryde, 31, is an IT expert but he denied the photograph had been digitally altered.

Photographic experts also said the shot had not been doctored."

Wow! Three experts in three consecutive paragraphs! I wonder what field of the first ones practice in - lamp-posts, maybe? Do these experts actually have names? Why are they so coy about publicity? Or are they just 'some bloke' the journalist met down the pub? Citing an 'expert' (real or imaginary) does add a bit of spurious weight to a half-baked report, though.

Can anyone remember any details of the newspaper story that said something like: "Plane crashes into mountain; something must have gone wrong, says expert" or it is a myth? Unfortunately, myth or not, such a quote is believable.
Posted by Lord Lucan  in  somewhere strange  on  Mon Dec 13, 2004  at  04:30 AM
The "before", "streak" and "after" photos are obviously taken within a second of one another, maybe less (notice the movement of the boat just right of the "flash" point -- it barely moves from frame to frame). So where does all that smoke in the "streak" frame go? One second it's there, surrounding the lamppost, and the next, it's gone...
Posted by Doubting Dave  on  Fri Dec 17, 2004  at  03:29 AM
Why does Doubting Dave say: 'the "before", "streak" and "after" photos are obviously taken within a second of one another'. Maybe I've missed something but it if it's obvious why can't I see it?

The photographer says the time between shots was 15 seconds. Someone on the IPOD discussion claims to have extracted the technical data from the picture files which shows this be so; however, he says the 'before' and 'after' shots appear to have been swapped. What may be significant is that the flash on the camera was indicated as being 'on' for all three shots suggesting that what is seen as a flash could be something small close to the camera which would then appear bright - an insect perhaps.
Posted by Lord Lucan  in  somewhere strange  on  Fri Dec 17, 2004  at  07:54 AM
Doubting Dave says: It's because I spoke too soon. With 15s between frames, there would be plenty of time for the smoke (if that's what it is) to dissipate, so there goes that objection...

As penance, I looked at the EXIF data (with GraphicConverter on Mac OS X) and it's like this:

before - 18:53:07
flash - 18:52:52
after - 18:52:37

So yeah, the pictures are out of order. Just a file-naming mistake, most likely. It's clear when viewing the three as an animation that the clouds are "un-billowing" in the filename order as given.

I don't know if I buy the "flying bug" theory... The dark line is just *too* straight, especially given that this is a 1/20s exposure: it's hard for me to imagine a bug that subtends that much angular distance on such a straight line.
Posted by Doubting Dave  on  Fri Dec 17, 2004  at  03:10 PM
I do not know...It could be..I have seen three rocks fall from the sky as well as my nieghbors did to..It had a streak and smoke and lit the night up! Once I saw one fall just accrossed our field and it fell straight smoke behing it and third 2:00 p.m. in the morning and this come fron the sky at an angle with smoke and then fell straight down ..It did not seem very big..So I am not sure..I aslo gave some picture to someone like this to a freind and was wondering what it was I took..It looked like orbS? Or something flew right through five series of picture and came from way up and right down towards me.This could very well be a meteorite ..But in most cases I would preffer to see it fall myself..Has he tried to find it?to prove this theory? It is a cool picture though..Thankyou for such a neat picture!!Keep snapping your dream will come true!
Posted by Diane Luchterhand  in  Spencer, WI  on  Sat Jan 29, 2005  at  04:53 PM
Ok! I see one photo here fellas. And unless this dude wanted to tripple expose a single, non adjusted frame, (which is kinda crazy) what the hell is the significance of timeing between more than one frame? I know this wasn't a 15s exposure, unless he had a couple hundred dollars worth of ND filters, with a fully closed app. The 1/20s expousure makes sence. But that's alot of distance for the object and i too wonder about the missing light in the trail. My only thought is perhaps the impact with the water (which is fairly clear) generated enough of a shift in momentum to spark some weird space flint in the rock. This would explane why the light isn't in the streak, and only apears within the space of the impact. Whatever the truth is. I'm glad we care enough to think about it.
Posted by ill bill  on  Wed Mar 23, 2005  at  08:25 PM
A week ago I also saw what looked like a meteorite fall in our niebghbors field.I was driving home and at the side of my veiw I saw a very bright flash,I stopped and then turned to watch a bright light with other sparkling lights fall to the ground.I am going to see if I can find it, once it thaws a little more.I will use my metal detector.I also know there are wires that go to a electric company right in that spot..So it could have been from something hitting the wire..But at 11:00 oclock at night, just a few wekks ago it was not fire works,thats for sure.There was no thunder niose and I also had my radio on so I wouldn't have anyway..But the light it self was so bright it just lit the sky up! I hopr this was a meteorite because..History says we will see meteorites and come upond them..And for every acre in this world we should find meteorites..Spoken by the great Meteorite Man..Mr. Robert Haag. Please look this up and read what it says about meteorites...{Meteorite hunters scour the southwest}..Punch that in your search box and bring it up and read this article.There is a lot to be found we just have to go and find them!
All I can say is..KEEP ON ROCKING!and good luck!
Posted by Diane Luchtherhand  in  WI  on  Wed Mar 23, 2005  at  09:04 PM
This is copied directly from the guy's website...

"My Conclusions

With near 100% certainty, the image does not show:

* a meteorite or piece of space debris
* a shadow from the lamppost
* a contrail, or shadow of a contrail
* a crepuscular or anti-crepuscular ray
* a camera artifact

Still very unlikely, but impossible to completely discount, are:

* fraud
* an exploding light bulb (doesn't address the streak)
* a reflection from the sunlit clouds (doesn't address the streak)
* a rocket or high velocity weapon
* lightning

Which leaves me with the most likely explanation: this is simply the image of an insect passing right in front of the lens. The theory is well supported by the image analysis and by experiment, it is plausible (a resident of Darwin reports that flying ants and other insects are numerous at this time of year), and it requires no extraordinary coincidences."

Occam's razor was applied in their results. Definitive proof? No. But it's as close as anyone will probably come, without duplicating it.
Posted by Rod  in  the land of smarties.  on  Wed Mar 23, 2005  at  09:11 PM
"There was no thunder niose and I also had my radio on so I wouldn't have anyway.." - Diane

Posted by Rod  in  the land of smarties.  on  Wed Mar 23, 2005  at  09:13 PM
Just for your information..I think it could be a meteorite.But untill he can find the true item that fell towards the pole...It's still just a possibilty.
Now for the information on my sighting which I did report as a "POSSIBLE" sighting also!.
while I was driving,I heard a "S -ssssss" and crackling noises and what sounded like something in the sky was frying in a pan, while the radio was on in my car....I stopped to see what it was and the time was 10:45 or so at night.I saw what looked like, lighting all the way from space and which came down to the ground behind the tree's in the next field which stayed for a few minuts ,then faded away.I also saw sparkles that came from the light tail and they where also falling to the ground.It reminded me of someone welding.The color of the trial was brilliant white.If it was not a meteorite,then I don't know what the heck it was.I started looking with a metal detector, but then four days after that it snowed,so next summer I will start to look again and it is a huge field of about 650 acres.That is what the owner say's,so it will be like looking for a needle in a pile of hay.I did find one interesting looking magnetic rock and it looks burnt and it is now starting to rust.I also found some Indian tools made from rock.And this has been confirmed by a freind who is a archeologist in that field of study.So,I can say all my hunting is not for nothing.There is a lot to find, if you look beyond just rocks alone.Think prehistoric living and indian times.
Posted by Diane  in  Spencer,WI  on  Mon Dec 05, 2005  at  09:08 PM
Commenting is no longer available in this channel entry.