Institute of Physics in NASA’s APOD for the 9th time

  • Tomáš Lanča
  • 03.11.2022
On a Czech national holiday, Friday, October 28, 2022, NASA published a photo of the day titled "Seven years of Halley dust". It captures the peak of the Orionids meteor shower, which this year took place on October 21st under very favourable conditions. But the phenomenon in the image is not just from this year: Because the frequency of the meteor shower is not very high, the author Petr Horálek has been recording it for seven years to get enough meteors in the image in order to show the meteor shower’s distribution. This is the 9th astrophotograph from the Institute of Physics in Opava that has been published as NASA’s Astronomy picture of the day.
Description of the photo on the NASA APOD website:

History's first known periodic comet Halley (1P/Halley) returns to the inner Solar System every 75 years or so. The famous comet made its last appearance to the naked-eye in 1986. But dusty debris from Comet Halley can be seen raining through planet Earth's skies twice a year during two annual meteor showers, the Eta Aquarids in May and the Orionids in October. Including meteors near the shower maximum on October 21, this composite view compiles Orionid meteors captured from years 2015 through 2022. About 47 bright meteors are registered in the panoramic night skyscape. Against a starry background extending along the Milky Way, the Orionid meteors all seem to radiate from a point just north of Betelgeuse in the familiar constellation of the Hunter. In the foreground are mountains in eastern Slovakia near the city of Presov.

NASA APOD "Seven years of Halley dust." NASA APOD "Seven years of Halley dust."
The image was progressively created in several different locations in Europe with respect to weather, and the background shows Tertiary volcanoes (no longer active) in the Prešov region in eastern Slovakia (this background photo was taken in October 2020). The author has been "hunting" meteors from the Orionids since 2014, when he recorded the first of them during an expedition of Multimedia Technology of the Institute of Physics in Opava to the Canary Islands. However, the data obtained wasn't sufficient thanks to interference caused by sands coming from the Sahara Desert known as "kalima". In the following years, however, he continued to record the swarm from other locations of eastern Slovakia and Czech Republic. This year, he attempted to record the last meteors in the photo mosaic on the night of 20-21st October at Oravská Lesná. In total, this mosaic now contains 47 meteors from the Orionids. The image also shows the position of Mars over Orion from this year. Mars is the brightest object in the image. Additionally, "Big Dipper" asterism can also be found in the upper left corner, as well as several emission (pinkish) nebulae of glowing hydrogen along the length of the Milky Way. The bright glow over the volcanoes comes from the unfortunate light pollution of the city Prešov. The image also forms part of a much larger photographic project that Petr Horálek at the Institute of Physics in Opava has been compiling over the past year from data which he’s been recording since 2014, specifically a collection of the year's major meteor showers.
Astronomy photo of the Day NASA (APOD) is a prestigious award of the most interesting astronomy photo of the day which is selected and competed by an educational description by a team of editors: prof. Jerry Bonnell (from the Michigan Technological University and prof. Robert Nemiroff (University of Maryland) who both work with NASA. The motto of APOD is „Discover the Cosmos“and since 1995 when the collection was started it became one of the most respected of its type in the world. The original texts are translated into 23 languages including Czech (translations into which have been done since 1999 by Josef Chlachula) APOD is seen by hundreds of millions of followers on social media every day.