Astronomy Picture of the Day

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

July 9, 1995
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A Meteoric View of Apollo 13
Picture Credit: Unknown

Explanation: Meteors, also called shooting stars, normally begin as bits of dust from the tails of comets or even small pieces chipped off asteroids. Falling toward Earth, these particles enter the atmosphere at extremely high speeds. Friction with the air heats them up and makes them glow brightly. Their rapid motion across the sky causes them to show up as bright streaks in photographs. In this picture, however, the bright streaks which appear to be meteor trails are believed to be two large pieces of the Apollo 13 spacecraft, the service and lunar modules, reentering the atmosphere.

For more information about the picture see the NASA photo caption.

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Astronomy Picture of the Day is brought to you by Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell . Original material on this page is copyrighted to Robert J. Nemiroff and Jerry T. Bonnell.