Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

January 30, 1998

Tempel-Tuttle: The Leonid Comet
Credit and Copyright: T. Puckett (Puckett Observatory)

Explanation: Star trails streak this composite time exposure of Comet Tempel-Tuttle recorded by T. Puckett on January 26. Presently passing through the inner solar system on its 33 year orbit around the Sun, Tempel-Tuttle has brightened unexpectedly, but binoculars or small telescopes are still required to visually observe it. Tempel-Tuttle is also called "the Leonid Comet" as the yearly Leonid meteor shower results when the Earth crosses this comet's orbital plane and encounters cometary dust. So, while not currently rivaling the spectacle of a Hyakutake or Hale-Bopp, Tempel-Tuttle may still put on a show. When the Earth plunges through Tempel-Tuttle's debris tail in November of this year, many sky-watchers are anticipating an extremely active meteor shower to result, perhaps even a meteor storm!

這張由T. Puckett攝於1月26日,以坦普-塔托彗星為導星的組合影像裡,恆星曳出跡線。 在它為期33年、環繞太陽的軌道上,在太陽系內圍穿行的坦普-塔托彗星最近意外增亮,不過仍需借助雙筒或小望遠鏡才能觀賞。 坦普-塔托彗星亦稱為“獅子彗星”,因為每年復現的獅子流星雨,即是地球穿越這顆彗星的軌道平面時,掃集此彗星留下的塵埃所產生的。 因此,儘管現在壯觀程度仍遠遜於百武或海爾-波普彗星,坦普-塔托彗星仍自有其魅力。 當地球在今年11月穿過坦普-塔托彗星的碎片流時,許多天文觀察者預言會產生非常活躍的流星雨,甚至可能會有流星暴!

Tomorrow's picture: Hamlet of Oberon

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