Comet and Meteor
As seen on Astronomy Picture of the Day this meteor streaking toward the horizon through the early morning sky of January 4th, 2009 is from the annual Quadrantid meteor shower. Aligned with the shower’s radiant point high in the north (off the top of the view), the meteor trail passes to the right of bright bluish star Beta Scorpii. Remarkably, near the top of the trail is a small spot, the fuzzy greenish glow of a comet. Discovered in July of 2007, Comet Lulin (C/2007 N3), was too faint at the time of this image to be seen by the unaided eye. The well-timed skyscape featuring both comet and meteor is particularly appropriate as cometary bodies are known to be the origins of planet Earth’s annual meteor showers. Also notable in this 30 seconds exposure and small field of view through a 200mm telephoto lens is a pair of aligned and much fainter streaks at top and bottom of Beta Scorpii, which might be sporadic meteors.