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.

2017 December 22
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Gemini's Meteors
Composite Image Credit & Copyright: Jeff Dai (TWAN)

Explanation: From dark skies above Heilongjiang province in northeastern China, meteors rain down on a wintry landscape in this beautiful composited night scene. The 48 meteors are part of last week's annual Geminid meteor shower. Despite temperatures of -28 degrees C, all were recorded in camera exposures made during the peak hour of the celestial spectacle. They stream away from the shower's radiant high above the horizon near the two bright stars of the zodiacal constellation of the Twins. A very active shower, this year the December 13-14 peak of the Geminids arrived just before the December 16 closest approach of asteroid 3200 Phaethon to planet Earth. Mysterious 3200 Phaethon is the Geminid shower's likely parent body.

Tomorrow's picture: meet the parent

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