Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2000 November 17
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Leonid Sunrise
Credit & Copyright: Wally Pacholka

Explanation: Such beautiful things begin as grains of sand. Locked in an oyster a granule grows into an iridescent pearl, lustrous and lovely to behold. While hurtling through the atmosphere at 70 kilometers per second, a cosmic sand grain becomes an awe-inspiring meteor, its transient beauty displayed for any who care to watch. Framed perfectly between orange clouds at sunrise, this bright meteor trail was photographed from the Joshua Tree National Park in California, USA during the 1998 Leonid Meteor Shower. Appropriately titled "Leonid Sunrise", the picture was recorded on high-speed film (ASA 3200) with a 35mm camera. Its striking colors and grainy, textured appearance suggest a painting on canvas. Of course, you could see Leonid meteors at sunrise for yourself. With clear skies, your next chance is coming up ... tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow's picture: Family Portrait

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.