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.

2014 May 9
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Halley Dust and Milky Way
Image Credit & Copyright: Mike Taylor

Explanation: The early morning hours of May 6 were moonless when grains of cosmic dust streaked through dark skies. Swept up as planet Earth plows through dusty debris streams left behind periodic Comet Halley, the annual meteor shower is known as the Eta Aquarids. This inspired exposure captures a meteor streak moving left to right through the frame. Its trail points back across the arc of the Milky Way to the shower's radiant above the local horizon in the constellation Aquarius. Known for speed Eta Aquarid meteors move fast, entering the atmosphere at about 66 kilometers per second. Still waters of the small pond near Albion, Maine, USA reflect the starry scene and the orange glow of nearby artificial lights scattered by a low cloud bank. Of course, northern hemisphere skygazers are expecting a new meteor shower on May 24, the Camelopardalids, caused by dust from periodic comet 209P/LINEAR.

Tomorrow's picture: inside the flame nebula

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