Astro photography

Leonid Meteor

Leonid Meteor, November 18, 2001. This bright meteor is part of an annual meteor shower called the Leonids, which happens around November 17th. At around that date the Earth's orbit takes it through a debris trail left behind by the comet Temple-Tuttle. The particle making this bright flash was probably no larger than a grain of rice, but it was travelling very fast, over 70 kilometres per second, and it quickly vaporised when it encountered Earth's atmosphere at an altitude of about 80 kilometres.

To get a sense of scale, the bright star to the lower left is Polaris, and in the lower right are the four stars of the Big Dipper turned on their side. Using these reference points, the meteor trail measures about 12 degrees in length, or about the width of 24 full Moons set side by side.

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Steve Irvine
R.R. # 2
Wiarton, Ontario
Canada N0H 2T0
(519) 534 2175