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