Photograph Of Meteor Captured In Scotland Goes Viral

On Sunday night, The Maritime and Coastguard Agency in Scotland and England received a call. People in the Highlands, Dumfries, Galloway, and Cumbria phoned the Coastguard, expressing concerns that they had witnessed a distress flare. However, it was nothing to be worried about: it was merely a beautiful meteor making its presence known across a starry night sky off the shores of Loch Ness. One man, tour guide, John Alasdair Macdonald, caught the remarkable image on his camera, and the photograph has gone viral.

Meteors, colloquially known as “shooting stars” are small rocky or metallic bodies traveling through space. They range greatly in size from virtually invisible to 1-meter wide objects. Often they are fragments from comets or asteroids – much larger bodies – and sometimes they can be debris formed from collisions of moons or planets.

When these bodies enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they travel at a speed faster than 20km/s. It’s the aerodynamic heating that produces a streak of light from both the object as well as the trail of glowing particles. This makes meteors difficult to see, and nearly impossible to photograph…except in this scenario.

Macdonald lives in Drumnadrochit, on the shore of Loch Ness and runs a business, The Hebridean Explorer. He was simply out for the evening using his Sony RX100 (by most standards a relatively unimpressive camera) to take pictures of the stars. As luck would have it, he took a shot during this meteor shower over northwest Scotland, and came up with a remarkable image.

Macdonald humbly referred to his viral photo as a “fluke” saying, “It was a beautiful, clear night and I got some nice pictures but capturing the meteor was a fluke. I will never take a picture like that again.”

That evening Macdonald said he heard of meteors being seen throughout the area on social media. In North Uist, Oban, Mull, and Sleat on Skye, people were reporting these stunning visual moments. However, he was the only one who snapped a photograph.

He claims it was sheer luck and is not taking in much of the credit or game. Perhaps this is true, however, for the time being, he has stunned thousands of people.

Photo can be found here.