Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

xtra meteor march 31

Meteor display at beach dazzles

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Shannon Bileski has never been a big fan of astronomy but it might become her newest hobby after a trip to Patricia Beach on the weekend.

The photography enthusiast received word on Friday evening that some fellow members of the Manitoba Foto Friends Photography Club had ventured north on Highway 59 hoping to take in the northern lights. Never one to pass up an opportunity to get some great shots, she hopped in her car to join them.

When she got there, the night sky was dancing over Lake Winnipeg so she whipped out her Nikon D800 and opened the shutter for eight seconds.

After awhile, some of her friends -- as well as a few members of the Royal Astronomy Society of Canada -- decided to pack up their gear. She was about to follow suit when a bright streak appeared in the sky.

"Then there were some flashes of green when it exploded and then it was over. It was very quick. It was a neat thing to see. I didn't even know what had happened," she said.

The amateur astronomers told her a meteor had just broken up as it entered the atmosphere. Regardless of whether it was a fluke or fate, Bileski got it all.

"I was very lucky to capture it. I was waiting for the aurora to erupt and I got quite the surprise. If you go out a lot you might see a meteor about once a year. To see a meteor with northern lights is even more rare and to capture it on camera is amazing," she said.

This meteor made far less of a splash than the one that blew up over Russia in February, injuring hundreds and damaging property.

A shutterbug since she was a child, she said there's no doubt this shot is one of her favourites. The other one was of a tornado in 2007.

She'll be taking more than just a passing interest in astronomy now, too.

"Definitely. I'd like to see a meteor again," she said.

Bileski, who owns her own portrait photography business, plans to head to Patricia Beach or Grand Beach in the coming days and weeks as April is traditionally a very active time for northern lights.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 31, 2013 A3

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