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.

2013 August 13
See Explanation.
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Perseid Meteors Over Ontario
Image Credit & Copyright: Darryl Van Gaal; Annotation: Judy Schmidt

Explanation: Where are all of these meteors coming from? In terms of direction on the sky, the pointed answer is the constellation of Perseus. That is why the meteor shower that peaked over the past few days is known as the Perseids -- the meteors all appear to come from a radiant toward Perseus. Three dimensionally, however, sand-sized debris expelled from Comet Swift-Tuttle follows a well-defined orbit about our Sun, and the part of the orbit that approaches Earth is superposed in front of the Perseus. Therefore, when Earth crosses this orbit, the radiant point of falling debris appears in Perseus. Pictured above, a composite of 13 early images from this year's Pereids meteor shower shows many bright meteors that streaked through the sky the night of August 11 near Oakland, Ontario, Canada.

Gallery: Highlights of the 2013 Perseids Meteor Shower
Tomorrow's picture: worlds in collusion

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
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