Leonid Meteor, November 17, 2009. The annual Leonid meteor shower usually comes on the 17th or 18th of November. This year we had ideal conditions with no moonlight to interfere with the show, cool but not frigid temperatures, and crystal clear skies
The greenish streak on the right side of the image is a Leonid meteor. The two brightest stars above the meteor are Pollux and Castor, the "head" stars in the constellation Gemini the Twins. The bright object to the lower left is Mars, and next to it is the lovely open star cluster M44, also known as The Beehive.
Leonid meteors are bits of debris from comet Tempel-Tuttle which enter Earth's atmosphere at roughly 238,000 km/h as Earth passes through the comet's debris field. Every 33 years the comet visits the inner solar system and leaves a stream of dusty debris in its wake. The comet particles vaporize with a bright flash as they enter our atmosphere. This photograph was taken at 4:07 a.m. EST.
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