The annual Perseid meteor shower, which peaks this week, is dazzling sky-watchers around the world.
Here, a bright fireball is caught lighting up the starry skies above Teutonia Peak in the Mojave National Preserve in California on August 10, more than a day before the official maximum activity peak for the Perseid meteors. (Read more on enjoying the Perseid meteor shower.)
Considered the most visually stunning meteor shower of 2013, the Perseids peak every August, when the Earth slams into a giant cloud of debris left behind by comet Swift-Tuttle along its orbit.
While most meteors zipping across the skies are no bigger than a grain of sand, fireballs like the one pictured above can be anywhere from the size of a grapefruit to the size of a basketball. The resulting high-speed impact causes unusually bright meteors, which astronomers call bolides, which can cast shadows and even a lingering smoke trail.