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.

August 20, 1997
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Bright Meteor, Dark Sky
Credit & Copyright: W. Pacholka

Explanation: Has Orion the Hunter acquired a new weapon? If you turn your head sideways (counterclockwise) you might notice the familiar constellation of Orion, particularly the three consecutive bright stars that make up Orion's belt. But in addition to the stars that compose his sword, Orion appears to have added some sort of futuristic light-saber, possibly in an attempt to finally track down Taurus the Bull. Actually, the bright streak is a meteor from the Perseid Meteor Shower, a shower that put on an impressive display last Tuesday morning, when this photograph was taken. This meteor was likely a small icy pebble shed years ago from Comet Swift-Tuttle that evaporated as it entered Earth's atmosphere.

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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.