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.
2011 December 19
Explanation: Some beautiful things begin as grains of sand. Locked in an oyster, a granule grows into an iridescent pearl, lustrous and lovely to behold. While hurtling through the atmosphere at 35 kilometres per second, a generous cosmic sand grain becomes an awe-inspiring meteor, its transient beauty displayed for any who care to watch. This years Geminid meteor shower peaked last week with sky enthusiasts counting as many as 150 meteors per hour, despite the din of bright moon. Pictured above the Taftan volcano in southeast Iran, a meteor streaks between the bright star Sirius on the far left and the familiar constellation of Orion toward the image centre. Sky watchers are looking forward to next years Geminids which should peak during a unobstructive new Moon.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.