Brian's "Picture of the Month"
IMAGE: Persistent Noctilucent Meteor Train
A persistent noctilucent Meteor Train as seen from 32,000 feet over the far-east Asia (above, after 20 minutes!). Full entry and break-up of the meteor was observed approximately 300nm (550km) ahead while traveling north at about 580 knots. After 30 minutes there were still patches as bright as the Milky Way. It was local midnight and the sun was approximately -28 degrees below the horizon and so the was no direct sunshine at that altitude. After over an hour and travelling over 1100 km, a course change allowed a view of a remnant still easily visible behind. The meteor entered at 1722z 11 July 2012.  [800x600]. There are some similarities with Noctilucent Clouds: []. See also archive: [similar?]
Light turbulence made photography very difficult, but otherwise the target was easily visible and could be photographed from the ground with ease using a modern digital camera. I think binoculars would have been spectacular for the first few minutes! It is interesting to note that winds aloft in the upper part of the atmosphere distorted the train very quickly. The unique 1100 km observation also allowed a view from various perspectives, however conditions were not ideal for a 3D image. Never-the-less, the time lapsed ".gif" sequence allows for an interesting animation (below).
This is taken at 1723z after +1 minute since meteor entry. Notice the "Big Dipper" and its initial entry point less then 10 degrees above the horizon. 11 July 2012. [800x600] This is taken primarily between 1722z and 1726z in the first 4 minutes after meteor entry. Please look at animations as well. 11 July 2012. [800x600]
This is taken at 1758z after +36 minutes since meteor entry. Notice the Milky Way and wing partially illuminated by a faint crescent moon. 11 July 2012. [800x600] This is taken at 1825z after +63 minutes since meteor entry. Notice the Milky Way and wing partially illuminated by a faint crescent moon. 11 July 2012. [800x600]

"By total chance in the cruise at 32,000 feet, while looking for other aircraft, I noticed a white star-like light similar to a rear "Nav" light. I knew there were no stars of this brightness where I was looking and so I assumed it was routinely another aircraft cruising above us, but there were no other official flashing lights. It was stationary, but I suspected it was moving just a little relative to us, so I kept my eye on it. Then it started to veer to my left, like a satellite. Well, satellites don't just change speed like that so it alerted my attention. By coincidence my camera was at my side and I took my first photo before I really knew what was it was. Then it flared up brightly and left a short little luminous cloud. It was like watching glowing magic ferry-dust, like gun powder in a fire works, but small and very far away which lasted over a minute. However, it then started to expand and simply never went away and was easily visible as a small streak for many minutes. After only a few minutes it quickly started to distort and become more diffuse in the extreme upper atmospheric winds. A half hour later I could directly see that some patches were the same brightness as the Milky Way. But of interest, it never vanished from sight in the hour I was able to view it." 11 July 2012. Far-east Asia. Brian Whittaker

Brian's Photo only: (c) 2012 Brian Whittaker (.com)