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.

2010 August 12
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Perseid Prelude
Credit & Copyright: Tamas Ladanyi (TWAN)

Explanation: Each August, as planet Earth swings through dust trailing along the orbit of periodic comet Swift-Tuttle, skygazers can enjoy the Perseid Meteor Shower. The shower should build to its peak now, best seen from later tonight after moonset, until dawn tomorrow morning when Earth moves through the denser part of the wide dust trail. But shower meteors have been spotted for many days, like this bright Perseid streaking through skies near Lake Balaton, Hungary on August 8. In the foreground is the region's Church of St. Andrew ruin, with bright Jupiter dominating the sky to its right. Two galaxies lie in the background of the wide-angle, 3 frame panorama; our own Milky Way's luminous arc, and the faint smudge of the more distant Andromeda Galaxy just above the ruin's leftmost wall. If you watch for Perseid meteors tonight, be sure and check out the early evening sky show too, featuring bright planets and a young crescent Moon near the western horizon after sunset.

Tomorrow's picture: trio in Virgo

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