Craig Turton wasn’t expecting to capture the magnificence of a plummeting meteor when he ventured to a quiet dam north of Brisbane with his cameras on Saturday night.
The photographer had planned to use the clear, crisp evening to take landscapes of the stars reflecting off North Pine Dam.
But during a 15-second exposure facing the south-west, he saw a great flash.
“I saw it come right down in the sky, so I just hoped while the exposure was going that I actually captured it,” he said.
“I got the bottom two-thirds of the meteor in the picture… it was the right place, right time.”
Thousands of south east Queenslanders saw or heard the meteor, which struck just after 10 pm.
Social media lit up with people having seen the flash, or felt their homes rumble or shake from its impact, particularly north and west of Brisbane.
“It sounded like a huge bomb,” one witness told the ABC.
The meteor is likely due to the “Taurid Swarm”, a cloud of debris leftover from a massive comet that is thought to have been responsible for cataclysmic collisions in the past, such as the notorious Tunguska event in Russia.
2000 square kilometres of Siberian forest was flattened by a suspected meteor during that incident in June 1908.
The Earth passes close to the Taurid Swarm twice a year, with increased meteor activity in June/July and October.
But we’re currently the closest we’ve been to the swarm since 1975, with astronomers using the opportunity to study the debris cloud for any potential objects that could be a risk to the Earth in the future.