Color Mars Panorama and Meteor Shower Saturday Night
The first color panorama looking around the landing site has been taken by the cameras on the mast of the Curiosity rover. In the picture, we are seeing a late afternoon scene, with the dramatic shadow of the rover, the reddish martian sand, and the grey splotches made where the rocket exhaust disturbed the ground. The set of stitched-together images shows the scene 360 degrees around the rover; as if we were right there with Curiosity. I love it. Even better images are going to be taken, but this first look around is what the scientists have been waiting for to get their bearings.
for the version with NASA's caption.
Coming back down to Earth, this Saturday night and Sunday morning are the peak of the Perseid (pronounced Purr--see--ud) meteor shower for 2012. What that means in English is that, if you go outside and away from city lights after about 11 pm Saturday evening or early Sunday morning, you will see more shooting stars than usual. If you are patient, allow your eyes to get adapted to the dark, and find a spot where you have a good view of the whole sky, you should be rewarded -- over time -- with a good number of chunks of cosmic material burning up in our planet's atmosphere.
The chunks in this "shooting star" shower are left over from an old comet called Swift-Tuttle, which has passed our way many times over the eons, and left a lot of dust in its wake. When the Earth intersects that stream of dust and dirt, we get a shooting star each time a piece burns up by air friction.
I recommend viewing the shower with someone with who you enjoy spending time in the dark.
For more, see the nice article from Sky & Telescope magazine at: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/about/pressreleases/Perseid-Meteors-in-Their-Prime-165482256.html