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.

2018 August 8

Animation: Perseid Meteor Shower
Visualization Credit: Ian Webster; Data: NASA, CAMS, Peter Jenniskens (SETI Institute)

Explanation: Where do Perseid meteors come from? Mostly small bits of stony grit, Perseid meteoroids were once expelled from Comet Swift-Tuttle and continue to follow this comet's orbit as they slowly disperse. The featured animation depicts the entire meteoroid stream as it orbits our Sun. When the Earth nears this stream, as it does every year, the Perseid Meteor Shower occurs. Highlighted as bright in the animation, comet debris this size is usually so dim it is practically undetectable. Only a small fraction of this debris will enter the Earth's atmosphere, heat up and disintegrate brightly. This weekend promises some of the better skies to view the Perseid shower as well as other active showers because the new moon will not only be faint, it will be completely absent from the sky for most of the night. Although not outshining faint Perseids, the new moon will partially obstruct the Sun as a partial solar eclipse will be visible from some northern locations.

Tomorrow's picture: Mornington morning

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