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 18, 1999
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A Sirius Leonid Meteor
Credit & Copyright: Wally Pacholka

Explanation: In the sky or on the web, did you watch this year's Leonid meteor shower? If you did, meteors flashing through the night sky should be a familiar sight. Recorded last year during the 1998 apparition of the Leonids, this time-exposure of the sky around the constellation Canis Major (big dog) shows the trail of a spectacular fireball meteor. The meteor, by chance, seems to leap from the constellation's brightest star Sirius, near the top right. In the foreground is the beautiful desert scenery of Joshua Tree National Park. At this year's peak of the cosmic dust storm, observers in Europe and Africa reported intense rates of over 1600 meteors per hour for a brief period near 0215 November 18 (UTC). Awe inspiring as they were, the Leonids posed no danger to earthbound skywatchers.

Tomorrow's picture: Mercury And The Sun

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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.