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.

November 16, 1996
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The Leonid Meteor Shower (Tonight)
P. Jenniskens (NASA /Ames)

Explanation: Tonight thousands of icy rocks will hurl toward Earth in a fascinating display of light called the Leonid Meteor Shower. There is little danger - few will reach the ground. But this year's Leonids could be nothing compared to the Leonids in 1998. Then, the Leonids might rival any meteor storm this century, with peak rates possibly toping 40 per second. Meteor showers result from debris left by passing comets. The Leonids specifically are small pieces of Comet Tempel-Tuttle. In the above series of time-lapse, 1-minute exposures, a 1995 Leonid is seen to leave a train of hot air that glowed persistently for several minutes.

Tomorrow's picture: A Quasar in the Gamma Ray Sky

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