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Leonid meteor or shooting star in Hydra

Leonid meteor or shooting star in Hydra

R305/0107

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Credit

FRANK ZULLO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FRANK ZULLO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Meteor. Leonid meteor (at lower centre) streaking past the red, bright star Alphard (at lower left) in the Hydra constellation. Meteors, also called falling or shooting stars, are tiny dust grains which enter the Earth's atmosphere and incandesce as they are heated by air resistance. Leonid meteor showers occur annually for about 2 days around 17 November when the Earth crosses the orbit of debris produced by the Tempel-Tuttle 1886 I comet. The Leonids enter the atmosphere at speeds of about 72 kilometres per second. During this period there are 5-20 meteors each hour, but about once every 33 years the rate can reach up to tens of thousands each hour.

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