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 8, 1998
Early next week, a spectacular meteor storm is expected: the 1998
It is widely thought that that the meteors from the
Leonids meteor shower
are just small pieces of
falling to Earth. During each pass near the Sun, a comet will
heat up and shed pieces of ice and rock
from its nucleus. This debris
continues to orbit the Sun until
either evaporating or being swept up by
some large solar-system body.
A piece of comet debris striking the Moon
creates a small crater, but a piece striking the Earth usually
burns up in the atmosphere causing
a brief, bright streak.
The streak below center in the above picture of
the northern sky actually depicts a meteor from
Perseid meteor shower,
a usually impressive display that peaks every year in
Authors & editors:
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.