A lucky family got the portrait of a lifetime when a shooting star appeared just as photographer Wil Cheung was snapping their photo. The result is a unique group portrait of the smiling family in the UK's Northumberland National Park. For Cheung, who was leading a group of stargazers through the park, it was a wonderful way to cap off the evening.
He'd already taken portraits of the other 25 guests when the Swan family stepped up for their turn. As Cheung needed to take a long exposure to get both the family and the night sky, he asked them to hold still for 3 seconds. Then, something magical occurred.
“When I clicked, I had to light them up briefly with a small torch, it was that moment I heard a gasp from everyone and I looked up and saw with my own eyes a bright shooting star streak across,” the photographer tells My Modern Met. “I then looked down at my camera and to my delight, the shooting star was captured!”
Cheung was impressed that the Swans remained so calm and held still even after all of the commotion. After the photo was finished and he told them what had happened, they were delighted. “It was great to see them so happy and excited from what had happened.”
Once Cheung explained to the group that typically he only sees one or two meteors an hour, the rarity of the situation really sunk in. The evening was made all the more special because the aurora was also visible. It's something that only happens from September to March and only when both the aurora level is high and the skies are clear. Overall, it was a one-in-a-million event for Cheung as a photographer and certainly provided the memory of a lifetime for the lucky family.