Hello everyone! Yesterday (1/27) I caught some beautiful pictures which have caused quite a debate among my family and friends. I live in North Dakota, and it was appx 7:45 am. I uploaded the photos to my fb and Google accounts, and have been seeking opinions as to What this is. Many people are telling me it is a piece of the asteroid which passed us yesterday...but I'd really appreciate a more informed, valid opinion.
Hi, Welcome to the forum! They are lovely pictures. What you have there is a beautifully lit condensation vapour trail (a contrail) from an a jet aircraft. With your position, angle of view and being very low the aircraft is probably being obscured by the trail itself. It'd be so far away you might not be able to make it out with the eye in anycase. There are several other vapour trails developing in your pictures also and the aircraft themselves can't be seen. Sorry, but it isn't a meteor or a bit of the asteroid. Regards, Bill.
Hi, By low I meant low from your perspective, it'll still be at high altitude! What causes the variation is the humidity of the upper troposphere. If it is "wet" (high relative humidity) the trails become large and spread out. If it's "dry" (low relative humidity) the the trails disappear quickly. Next time you see a jet closer, right overhead is best, watch the way the contrail forms right behind the aircraft. As it expands and trails out it can actually tell you a lot about the state of the atmosphere at 25000+ feet. Whether it's dry or wet and if it shreds then you've got high winds above you. Your pictures show that it was very humid air and with low winds as the trail wasn't moving much. Pretty neat once you get an idea for what you're seeing. regards, Bill.
If you're interested in trying to identify the specific aircraft that may have left the vapour trail, have a look at www.flightradar24.com/46.51,-96.99/8 and press the "clock" icon in the upper right hand corner to access the "playback" option. Depending on how long lived the vapour trail was (based on the time stamps it appears to be quite long) you'll need to look for an aeroplane flying eastwards, on a ground track that passed to the north of your locaton at or before the times your pictures were taken. Note that the clock is in UTC so you'll need to add 6 hours from the time you took the photograph ie 07:51 Mountain = 13:51 UTC
The skies are a bit busy but hopefully you'll be able to draw up a shortlist of possible candidates