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13 Stunning Images from the Perseid Meteor Shower

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Getty Images

If you were wise enough to take our advice from earlier in the week, last night you got out to watch this year’s Perseid meteor shower. It comes around every summer, and Wednesday offered up the most breathtaking views of the event across the Northern Hemisphere. The meteors are actually bits of cosmic debris in the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet. When they enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they burn up, creating brilliant streaks across the night sky.

In the case that you weren’t able to escape from light pollution (or motivate yourself to wake up at four a.m.), we’ve rounded up 13 stunning photos captured by last night’s stargazers. Check out what you missed. If you captured some stellar images yourself, tweet them to @mental_floss, tag us on Instagram, or leave a photo comment on the Facebook post of this story.  

1. Silicon Valley // 10:01 p.m.

Photographer Wilson Lam: "Who says you have to leave the Bay Area to see the meteors?"

2. "Around the Radiant" // 3:09 a.m.

Photographer Kev Lewis: "Six meteors photographed coming from the radiant with Andromeda watching the meteor shower."

3. "Skyline" // 1:45 a.m.

Photographer Jono Kane: "One of my life-long favorite spots made for a great vantage point for viewing the incredible meteor shower tonight. Good times road trip with friends."

4. Twmbarlwm, Wales // 12:33 a.m.

5. Crissolo, Italy 

A photographer prepares to take pictures of the annual Perseid meteor shower in the village of Crissolo, near Cuneo, in the Monviso Alps region of northern Italy.

6. Van, Turkey 

7. Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Nevada

A Perseid meteor streaks across the sky above desert pine trees on August 13, 2015

8. Portencross Pier, Scotland

9. "Through the Milky Way"

"Successfully captured a #perseid #meteor soaring through the Milky Way last night. #shipsinthenight #itsamazingoutthere."

10. Democrat Point, New York

11. Dublin // 5:09 p.m.

12. "Meteor and the Milky Way" // 11:57 p.m.

13. Spruce Knob, West Virginia // 10:51 p.m.

NASA HQ PHOTO, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

In this 20-second exposure, a meteor streaks across the sky.

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By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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History
Photo of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, Purchased for $10, Could Be Worth Millions
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Several years ago, Randy Guijarro paid $2 for a few old photographs he found in an antiques shop in Fresno, California. In 2015, it was determined that one of those photos—said to be the second verified picture ever found of Billy the Kid—could fetch the lucky thrifter as much as $5 million. That story now sounds familiar to Frank Abrams, a lawyer from North Carolina who purchased his own photo of the legendary outlaw at a flea market in 2011. It turns out that the tintype, which he paid $10 for, is thought to be an image of Billy and Pat Garrett (the sheriff who would eventually kill him) taken in 1880. Like Guijarro’s find, experts say Abrams’s photo could be worth millions.

The discovery is as much a surprise to Abrams as anyone. As The New York Times reports, what drew Abrams to the photo was the fact that it was a tintype, a metal photographic image that was popular in the Wild West. Abrams didn’t recognize any of the men in the image, but he liked it and hung it on a wall in his home, which is where it was when an Airbnb guest joked that it might be a photo of Jesse James. He wasn’t too far off.

Using Google as his main research tool, Abrams attempted to find out if there was any famous face in that photo, and quickly realized that it was Pat Garrett. According to The New York Times:

Then, Mr. Abrams began to wonder about the man in the back with the prominent Adam’s apple. He eventually showed the tintype to Robert Stahl, a retired professor at Arizona State University and an expert on Billy the Kid.

Mr. Stahl encouraged Mr. Abrams to show the image to experts.

William Dunniway, a tintype expert, said the photograph was almost certainly taken between 1875 and 1880. “Everything matches: the plate, the clothing, the firearm,” he said in a phone interview. Mr. Dunniway worked with a forensics expert, Kent Gibson, to conclude that Billy the Kid and Mr. Garrett were indeed pictured.

Abrams, who is a criminal defense lawyer, described the process of investigating the history of the photo as akin to “taking on the biggest case you could ever imagine.” And while he’s thrilled that his epic flea market find could produce a major monetary windfall, don’t expect to see the image hitting the auction block any time soon. 

"Other people, they want to speculate from here to kingdom come,” Abrams told The New York Times of how much the photo, which he has not yet had valuated, might be worth. “I don’t know what it’s worth. I love history. It’s a privilege to have something like this.”

[h/t: The New York Times]

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NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA
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Space
Mind-Bending New Images of Jupiter From Juno's Latest Flyby
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA

NASA’s Juno spacecraft left Earth in August 2011, and has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016, completing its eighth close flyby in late October. While flying beneath the dense cloud cover that obscures the solar system’s largest planet, it captured some incredible close-up views of the gas giant, as Newsweek reports.

With the JunoCam community, the public can alert NASA to points of interest and help direct the Juno mission. Citizen scientists have processed the raw, black-and-white images Juno beams back to Earth to highlight particular atmospheric features, collage multiple images, and enhance colors, releasing the edited color images before the space agency has a chance to. A whole new batch just emerged from the latest flyby, and they're well worth a look. Take a peek at a few below, and see more at the JunoCam website.

A swirl appears on Jupiter's surface.
NASA/SwRI/MSSS/Shawn Handran // Public Domain

A partial view of Jupiter
NASA/SwRI/MSSS/Shawn Handran // Public Domain

A close-up view of Jupiter's surface
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA

A view of Jupiter's surface
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA

[h/t Newsweek]

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