January 02, 2012

Did you wish upon a shooting star in 2011? In case you missed your chance, here are some of our favorite meteor shower images from 2011.

According to NASA, the best meteor shower of summer 2011 took place in August. The Perseids, which have been observed for around 2,000 years, are caused by the Earth passing through "the debris trail left behind comet Swift-Tuttle."

In December, Canadian astronomers captured a basketball-sized meteor on video. The fireball, which could be seen moving east of Toronto, was unrelated to the concurrent Geminid meteor shower.

One way to compensate for the Moon's presence is to find a spot where a building or tree blocks the Moon from view. This will make the sky appear darker. Then, focus your attention in the direction opposite where the Moon lies.
(From huffingtonpost)

Mojave Desert Fireball Credit & Copyright: Wally Pacholka
Monstrously bright, this fireball meteor lit up the Mojave Desert sky Monday morning, part of this year's impressive Geminid meteor shower. Seen toward the southwest over rock formations near Victorville, California, a more familiar celestial background was momentarily washed out by the meteor's flash. The background includes bright star Sirius at the left, and Aldebaran and the Pleaides star cluster at the right side of the image. The meteor itself blazes through the constellation Orion. Its greenish trail begins just left of a yellow-tinted Betelgeuse and points back to the shower's radiant in Gemini, just off the top of the frame. A rewarding catch for photographer Wally Pacholka, the spectacular image is one of over 1500 frames that he reports captured 48, mostly faint, Geminid meteors.

Meteor in the Desert Sky Image Credit & Copyright: Wally Pacholka
Recognizable in the background are bright stars in the northern asterism known as the Big Dipper, framing the meteor streak.

Quadrantids over Qumis Image Credit & Copyright: Babak Tafreshi

The Quadrantid Meteor Shower is an annual event for planet Earth's northern hemisphere skygazers. It usually peaks briefly in the cold, early morning hours of January 4. The shower is named for its radiant point on the sky within the old, astronomically obsolete constellation Quadrans Muralis. That position is situated near the boundaries of the modern constellations Hercules, Bootes, and Draco. In this haunting time exposure, two quadrantid meteor streaks are captured crossing trails left by rising stars of the constellations Virgo and Corvus, but Saturn leaves the brightest "star" trail. The meteor streaks, one bright and one faint, are nearly parallel above and right of center in the frame. Fittingly, the old cistern structure in the foreground lies above the now buried city of Qumis. Known as a city of many gates, Qumis (in Greek history Hecatompylos), was founded 2300 years ago in ancient Persia.

The Snows of Paranal Image Credit & Copyright: Yuri Beletsky
Recorded in august, this dawn portrait of snowy mountain and starry sky captures a very rare scenario. The view does feature a pristine sky above the 2,600 meter high mountain Cerro Paranal, but clear skies over Paranal are not at all unusual. That's one reason the mountain is home to the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope. Considering the number of satellites now in orbit, the near sunrise streak of a satellite glinting at the upper left isn't rare either. And the long, bright trail of a meteor can often be spotted this time of year too. The one at the far right is associated with the annual Perseid meteor shower whose peak is expected (Friday, August 12). In fact, the rarest aspect of the picture is just the snow. Cerro Paranal rises above South America's Atacama desert, known as the driest place on planet Earth.

Perseid Below Credit: Ron Garan, ISS Expedition 28 Crew, NASA
Denizens of planet Earth watched this year's Perseid meteor shower by looking up into the moonlit night sky. But this remarkable view captured by astronaut Ron Garan looks down on a Perseid meteor. From Garan's perspective onboard the International Space Station orbiting at an altitude of about 380 kilometers, the Perseid meteors streak below, swept up dust left from comet Swift-Tuttle heated to incandescence. The glowing comet dust grains are traveling at about 60 kilometers per second through the denser atmosphere around 100 kilometers above Earth's surface. In this case, the foreshortened meteor flash is right of frame center, below the curving limb of the Earth and a layer of greenish airglow. Out of the frame, the Sun is on the horizon beyond one of the station's solar panel arrays at the upper right. Seen above the meteor near the horizon is bright star Arcturus and a star field that includes the constellations Bootes and Corona Borealis. The image was recorded on August 13 while the space station orbited above an area of China approximately 400 kilometers to the northwest of Beijing.

A Geminid Meteor Over Iran Credit & Copyright: Arman Golestaneh
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 kilometers 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 center. Sky watchers are looking forward to next years Geminids which should peak during an unobstructive new Moon.

Draconid Meteors Over Spain Image Credit & Copyright: Juan Carlos Casado
What are those streaks in the sky? They're meteors from the Draconids meteor shower that peaked earlier this month. The above composite image captured numerous meteor streaks over 90 minutes above the Celtic ruins of Capote in Badajoz province, Spain. The particles that caused these meteors were typically the size of a pebble and were expelled long ago from the nucleus of comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner. Most of the above meteors can be traced back to a single radiant emanating from the constellation of the Dragon (Draco). Reports from this year's meteor shower indicate that the Draconids were unusually good this year with activity was concentrated around 8 pm UT on October 8. The most intense Draconid meteor showers in recent history occurred in 1933 and 1946 when thousands of meteors per hour were recorded as the Earth plowed through particularly dense streams of comet debris. Although the Draconids occur every October, it is usually difficult to know just how active each year's meteor shower will be.

Castle and Meteor by Moonlight Image Credit & Copyright: Tamas Ladanyi
Each August, as planet Earth swings through dust trailing along the orbit of periodic comet Swift-Tuttle, skygazers enjoy the Perseid Meteor Shower. As Earth moves through the denser part of the comet's wide dust trail this year's shower peaks around 6:00 UT August 13 (this morning), when light from a nearly full Moon masks all but the brighter meteor streaks. Still, Perseid meteors can be spotted in the days surrounding the peak. Moonlight and a Perseid meteor created this gorgeous skyscape, recorded in a simple, single, 10 second long exposure on the morning of August 12. Below the moonlit clouds in the foreground are the ruins of a medieval castle near Veszprem, Hungary, seen against the Bakony mountain range. In the night sky above the clouds, the Perseid meteor's trail is joined by bright planet Jupiter near the center of the frame along with the lovely Pleiades star cluster at the left.

Perseid Storm Credit & Copyright: Robert Arn
Storms on the distant horizon and comet dust raining through the heavens above are combined in this alluring nightscape. The scene was recorded in the early hours of August 13 from the Keota Star Party site on the Pawnee National Grasslands of northeastern Colorado, USA. Looking east across the prairie, the composite of 8 consecutive exposures each 30 seconds long captures the flash of lightning and a bright Perseid meteor. On the right, even the clouds can't block the light from brilliant planet Jupiter, whose mythological namesake knew how to handle both lightning bolts and meteors. Of course, this meteor's streak points back toward the shower's radiant in the heroic constellation Perseus, sharing a starry background that includes the Pleiades star cluster poised above the storm clouds. Just above the bright meteor lies the faint Andromeda Galaxy.

Meteor over Zakopane / Giewont Photo:fraktus

The Capricornids are characterized by their often yellow coloration and their frequent brightness. They are also slow interplanetary interlopers, hitting our atmosphere at around 15 miles per second. Though you can expect only 15 meteors per hour at best under dark sky conditions, the Capricornids are noted for producing brilliant fireballs.

Geminids over Kitt Peak Image Credit & Copyright: David A. Harvey

A Meteor Moment Image Credit & Copyright: Amir Hossein Abolfath

VIDEO: A time-lapse video of December's impressive Geminid meteor shower




Responses to "Best Meteor Shower Pictures Of 2011 (Video included)"

  1. Thank you for sharing this amazing video...Fleeting light captured for all to embrace the wonders of the Universe. Blessings, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

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