Meteor. Falling star. Shooting
star. All are the same thing, and none
has anything to do with a star!
A meteor is a speck of cosmic dust that
falls into the atmosphere and disintegrate
in a fiery burst of light. Most
nights, stargazers can see four or five of
these every hour.
Several times each year, however, our planet slams into a swarm of particles
left behind by a long-gone comet. When this occurs, we on Earth witness
a meteor shower. The most famous
showers are the Perseid shower in
mid-August. In a typical year, this
shower produces about 60 to 100 meteors
every hour, but other showers can be even
Absolutely no equipment is needed to enjoy this cosmic show; you need only a site far from
blinding city lights , a lawn chair or sleeping bag and, perhaps, a blanket or hot
chocolate to keep warm.
As the night progresses, you will see many meteors, or shooting stars, falling through the
sky. But your best chance comes after midnight and before dawn when we on Earth face
the direction of our planet's orbital motion, enabling you to see "out the front
window" at the meteors pelting us from the front. Most will be dim, but
some (fireballs) may be bright enough to break apart or leave smoke trails behind.
And some may glow in a variety of colors.
calendar to learn when the next
meteor shower is coming to a sky near you!