Optical image of a Leonid meteor and star trails

Optical image of a Leonid meteor and star trails

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Credit: DAN SCHECHTER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Meteor. Optical image of a Leonid meteor (centre) and star trails. Meteors, or shooting stars, are tiny particles of dust which enter the Earth's atmosphere with speeds of 35-95 kilometres per second. Air resistance heats the particles, making them visible as streaks of light. Leonid meteor showers occur annually for about 2 days around 17 November when the Earth crosses the path of debris produced by the Tempel-Tuttle 1886 I comet. Every 33 years, the Leonid shower rises from its normal rate of around 15 meteors per hour to tens of thousands, as Earth passes through denser regions of debris. This meteor was part of the 1998 shower, before the predicted peak in 1999.

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Keywords: 1998, astronomy, comet debris, cosmology, leonid, leonid meteor, meteor, meteor shower, shooting star, star trails, tempel-tuttle debris

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