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Astronaut catches a falling star

It was harder than usual this weekend to take in the full effect of the annual Perseid meteor shower, due to the glare from a full moon, but NASA astronaut Ron Garan didn't have that problem when he went meteor-watching from the International Space Station on Saturday. From Garan's Twitpic gallery, here's a rare picture of a Perseid shooting star as seen from above.

The brownish-greenish arc above the edge of Earth's disk is caused by a phenomenon known as nightglow, primarily created by chemical reactions in the atmosphere. You can also see a sliver of one of the space station's solar arrays on the right edge of the picture. As Discovery News' Ian O'Neill notes, the meteor streak itself doesn't look much different from what you'd see on Earth, except that you're looking at it from above rather than from below.

Garan has had lots of experience taking pictures from space during his four and a half months on the station, and you can see his handiwork in the Twitpic gallery as well as his own website, Fragile Oasis. For this photo, he suggests that he got some advice on camera settings from his son, Jake Garan. We're going to miss Ron's shooting when he returns to Earth on Sept. 8 aboard a Russian Soyuz craft, but if history is any guide, there'll be other space photographers to take his place on the station.

More about the Perseids and space photography:


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