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Photo of the Day: Perseids Meteor Shower

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perseids meteor shower 2013

The stream of debris is called the Perseid cloud and stretches along the orbit of the comet Swift-Tuttle. The cloud consists of particles ejected by the comet as it travels on its 133-year orbit. The shower is visible from mid-July each year, with the peak in activity between 9 and 14 August, depending on the particular location of the stream. During the peak, the rate of meteors reaches 60 or more per hour. They can be seen all across the sky, but because of the path of Swift-Tuttle’s orbit, Perseids are primarily visible in the northern hemisphere.

For those unfamiliar: a meteor shower is a celestial event in which a number of meteors are observed to radiate, or originate, from one point in the night sky. These meteors are caused by streams of cosmic debris called meteoroids entering Earth’s atmosphere at extremely high speeds on parallel trajectories. Most meteors are smaller than a grain of sand, so almost all of them disintegrate and never hit the Earth’s surface.

Kingham made a 9-hour trek to capture the meteor shower from Dinosaur National Monument. He says the image above shows 17 meteors over a period of five hours. The stunning composite was made from 20 images (the 17 meteors, 1 for the sky as a background and 2 from twilight to brighten the rock and trees).