NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day highlights Comet Halley and Comet SWAN in pre-dawn sky

Eta Aquarid meteors enter the atmosphere at about 66 kilometres per second and are visible at altitudes of 100 kilometres.


Each day, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) shares a different image of the universe along with a brief explanation by a professional astronomer under the ‘Astronomy Picture of the Day’ series. On 14 May, NASA posted an image that captured a moment when both Comet Halley and SWAN are visible in the pre-dawn sky.

The picture has been clicked by French photographer Luc Perrot, who is known for his passion for night photography. Perrot was the winner of the June 2014's 5th International Earth and Sky Photo Contest.

 NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day highlights Comet Halley and Comet SWAN in pre-dawn sky

The pre-dawn hours of May 3rd were moonless as grains of cosmic dust streaked through southern skies above Reunion Island. Image credit: NASA/APOD

The photo, which showcases a starry sky with two comets zooming past in different directions, was taken in the moonless pre-dawn hours of 3 May. The image was shot, “as grains of cosmic dust streaked through southern skies above Reunion Island," describes NASA.

“This inspired exposure captures a bright aquarid meteor flashing left to right over a sea of clouds,” the space agency said.

NASA adds that the stunning image was taken during the annual meteor shower, known as the Eta Aquarid.

Eta Aquarid meteors are known for their fast movement, enter the atmosphere at about 66 kilometres per second and are visible at altitudes of 100 kilometres, the caption to the image states.

The space agency also explained that the pale greenish coma and a long tail of Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN is also visible in the “celestial scene” above the volcanic peaks left of center.

According to an article by The Independent, Comet Swan could soon be visible with the naked eye from Earth. As it gets closer, the comet should be visible in the Southern Hemisphere without any equipment before sunrise and will become most clear at the end of May and beginning of June.


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