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.
2014 August 15
Explanation: Bright moonlight from a Full Moon near perigee illuminates the night and casts shadows in this skyscape from central Iran. Taken on August 12, near the peak of the annual Perseid meteor shower the exposure also captures a bright and colourful perseid streak above the shady tree in the foreground. This year the super moonlight interfered with meteor watching into the early morning hours, overwhelming the trails from many fainter perseids in the shower. Brighter perseids like this one were still visible though, their trails pointing back to the heroic constellation Perseus outlined at the right. Swept up as planet Earth orbits through dust left behind from periodic comet Swift-Tuttle, the cosmic grains that produce perseid meteors enter the atmosphere at nearly 60 kilometres per second, heated to incandesence and vapourized at altitudes of about 100 kilometres. Next year, Perseid meteors will flash through dark skies under a New Moon.
Tomorrow's picture: light-weekend
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.