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Amazing photo of the Quadrantid meteor shower… from space!

17 Jan 2020, 14:00 UTC
Amazing photo of the Quadrantid meteor shower… from space!
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The recent Quadrantid meteor shower in early January was something of a bust for most people; while it did produce shooting stars, it was not quite up to the rate predicted (absolute max of 100/hour, though for most people about half that). I hope to eventually see a paper saying why that might be.

But some folks got a good view of the shower. Amazingly, it wasn’t from someone who looked up to see the meteors burning up in our atmosphere. It was from someone who had to look down.

International Space Station astronaut Christina Koch tweeted this shot a couple of days after the Quadrantid peak:

WHOA. Look to the left: You can see several trails from bits of asteroid 2003 EH as they hypersonically plow through our upper atmosphere, about 100 km off the ground. At the time, the space station was 320 km higher yet.

When I first saw the photo I was alarmed, but Koch's caption eased my mind: She notes explicitly that this is a composite of several photos. Ah, that makes sense! A photo like this has a short exposure time, and the odds of catching a meteor at all are low, let alone ...

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