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What are Meteor Showers

  1. Nov 4, 2011 #1
    On a clear, dark night, one may observe the sky and see a few bright streaks of light across the vast dome of the sky. These are what we astronomers call meteors, more commonly called "shooting stars." Meteors are not actually shooting stars, they are fragments of debris falling at high speeds and burning up in the atmosphere.

    Do not confuse the terms meteoroid, meteor, and meteorite. A meteoroid is a fragment of rock in motion in space. A meteor is a fragment of this rock that is burning up in the Earth's atmosphere. A fragment of rock through space that survives the journey through the atmosphere and strikes Earth's surface is called a meteorite.

    Meteor showers occur a few times every year. This is caused by a comet leaving debris of rock, dust and ice behind as it makes its elliptical journey around the sun. A comet is dust, ice, and gas, sometimes called "dirty snowballs," that travels in an orbit around the sun until the thermal stresses from the sun break it up or melt it. When this debris is left, it many times crosses Earth's orbit. As the Earth moves along its path, it intercepts this debris, causing much of it to enter the atmosphere and burn brightly.

    Meteor showers are a natural phenomenon that leave us thirsting for more knowledge of the beauty of the universe. They can be classified among the most beautiful events that any eyes have ever seen.
  2. jcsd
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