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Perseid Meteor Shower (click to enlarge)
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Perseid Meteor Shower
Date: 12 Aug 2004

This bright and colorful meteor flashed through skies over Japan during the peak of the Perseids meteor shower in 2004. The meteor's trail points down and to the left, back to the shower's radiant point between the constellations of Perseus and Cassiopeia, seen here just above the tower structure in the foreground.

The source of the annual meteor shower is comet Swift-Tuttle. Although the comet is nowhere near Earth, its wide tail intersects Earth's orbit. We glide through it every year in July and August. Tiny bits of comet dust hit Earth's atmosphere traveling 132,000 mph. At that speed, even a tiny smidgen of dust makes a vivid streak of light -- a meteor -- when it disintegrates. The shower is most intense when Earth is in the dustiest part of the tail.

Perseid meteors fly out of the constellation Perseus, hence their name. The best time to watch is during the hours before sunrise when Perseus is high in the sky

Last Update: 8 Jul 2011 (AMB)

Image Credit & Copyright: Katsuhiro Mouri & Shuji Kobayashi (Nagoya City Science Museum/Planetarium)

Credit: NASA

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