Photographer Gets Once-In-A-Lifetime Shot Of Meteor By Accident

The impossible caught on camera, accidentally.

Prasenjeet Yadav never intended to be a photographer, let alone capture something which almost no one ever can – a meteor. Despite over 25 million meteors flying towards Earth each and every day, they’re often too small or too hard to see during the day and most people sleep during the night meaning they never have a chance to see them, let alone photograph them. However, that is exactly what Yadav managed to do, completely unintentionally.

Prasenjeet Yadav

Leaf National Geographic Explorer
Prasenjeet Yadav, Ecologist and Photographer

Born in Nagpur, India, roughly 35 miles from the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Yadav was no stranger to tigers and leopards simply wandering through his backyard. These big cats fascinated him as a child and as he grew up, he studied them as a molecular biologist. Despite his keen interest, he still had the sense that most people didn’t read, let alone understand, academic papers. To help people understand better, he thought people needed to see science in the real world, which is when he became a photographer.

The Magic Moment

Green Meteor India Western Ghats Meteorite
Image: PRASENJEET YADAV

The moment he captured the bright green meteor, Yadav was filming something completely different. He had won a National Geographic Young Explorers grant to document “sky islands, “which is the isolated mountain peaks that rise above the clouds along a 400-mile swath of the Western Ghats. He wanted to film Mettupalayam in an attempt to show the area’s urbanization compared to what it was in recent decades. To best show this, he decided to use the active nightlife in the area.

Kodaikanal Hd Hill Station Lake
The Western Ghats is a mountain range in India. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the eight “hottest hot-spots” of biological diversity in the world.

So, in the early hours of October 9th, 2015, Yadav drove into the mountains, set up his Nikon D600, and programmed it to take 15-second exposures every 10 seconds until 4: 30am. Then he made camp and went to sleep until dawn. Upon waking up, Yadav was met with the thousand or so images which his camera took overnight and so he got to review them. This is when he saw the brilliant flash of emerald light. He couldn’t believe his eyes, and quite rightly so! He first thought it was a fluke, a trick of the camera and light but several astronomers since confirmed it was, in fact, a meteor.

To witness such a rare and beautiful event would be amazing in itself but to actually be able to take an image of it, is just remarkable. Being in the right place, at the right time has seemingly paid off for Prasenjeet Yadav, and now his name is known all over the world, all while helping others understand and appreciate science.

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