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

A Sirius Leonid Meteor
Credit & Copyright: Wally Pacholka

Explanation: In the sky or on the web, have you seen this year's Leonid meteor shower? If you have, a bright meteor flashing through the night sky should be a familiar sight. Recorded last year during the 1998 apparation 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. Reports of bright meteors from this year's Leonids are already wide-spread, with the 1999 shower predicted to peak around 0200 UTC on November 18 at rates of several hundred to thousands of meteors per hour. Awe inspiring as they are, the Leonids pose no danger to earthbound skywatchers.

Tomorrow's picture: Meteor Sky

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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.