Shooting Star in the Sky

We all love to watch events that are from outer space, whether they are comets, alignments among the planets, or the ever infamous shooting star! Astronomy generally intrigues us humans to study the field, and help provide answers to the unknown. As children, many families would gather around for the chance to be a part of a rare event; to see a shooting star in the sky. Shooting stars are often romanticized in children’s movies and literature; to a child, seeing a shooting star may mean that they can make a wish and it will come true. For some adults, the magic of a shooting star has dissipated, but the image that still comes to mind is a star with a trail of light behind it. However, to most individual’s surprise, the incident of a shooting star does not actually have anything to do with a star falling, as a matter of fact; it is not even a star.

If you are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a shooting star, it may appear that this burst of light is originating from a group of stars, but this is not the case. The incident of a shooting star actually refers to a streak of light which consists of particles, dust, and matter that make up meteoroids which are falling into the Earth’s atmosphere reaching immense amounts of heat causing them to burn up. These meteoroids are actually the correct agent in the event of a shooting star, and if any part of the meteoroid actually makes it through the earth’s atmosphere before disintegrating it is then considered a meteorite. Certain seasons, geographic locations, and times of day and year are more prone to experiencing this astronomical event. If there are multiple shooting stars, the proper and correct name to describe the event is actually a meteor shower. These meteor shows occur when the Earth passes through the Sun’s left over train of comets and debris, therefore forming meteoroids. A more specific way of describing these showers is to classify them in regards to their constellation. The science behind shooting stars may not be as magical as the fiction, but it is still exciting. Witnessing a shooting star is still a very worthwhile event that you should feel fortunate to see. Seeing a shooting star is seeing the power of the earth’s defenses at work. Without the protection of the atmosphere, all of this debris, rocks and dust that burn up to create shooting stars would actually be coming right to the Earth’s surface!

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