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.

2001 July 28
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A Daytime Fireball in 1944
Credit & Copyright: Norman Appleton

Explanation: While stationed in central Africa in December 1944, Norman Appleton witnessed a meteor so bright he remembered it his entire life. Right before his eyes a tremendous smoking fireball streaked across the daytime sky. Years later, as an accomplished member of the Guild of Aviation Artists, he recorded his memories in the above painting. Several days ago, on July 23 at 6:19 pm EDT, a daytime fireball visible from the northeast United States was reported by many personal accounts. No pictures of this event have yet surfaced, although it is quite possible that a video security camera somewhere caught it serendipitously. The bolide was likely caused by a sofa-sized rocky meteor disintegrating as it fell to Earth, an event that occurs over some unpopulated area almost every day.

Tomorrow's picture: The Ring

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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.