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, 1997
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The Leonid Meteor Shower
Credit: P. Jenniskens (NASA /Ames)

Explanation: The Leonid Meteor Shower will likely reach its peak in the early hours this Monday morning. Though the Moon will be bright, Leo, the shower's radiant point, will be well above the eastern horizon from Western North America and the Pacific region during this period. This year's Leonids may prove particularly exciting as observers anticipate the legendary Leonid storm of activity will occur sometime during the next few apparitions of this annual meteor shower - although most expect the meteor storm to occur in 1998 or 1999. 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: Barringer Crater on Earth

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.