Have you ever seen a “shooting” or “falling” star? These streaks of light are not actually stars at all, but space rocks falling through the earth’s atmosphere. These rocks are called meteoroids or meteors. As the meteor falls it rubs against particle’s in the earth’s atmosphere which creates friction, making the meteor extremely hot. Usually, the meteors become so hot they burn up and disappear before hitting the earth. The flame of that burning up is what we see and what makes meteors look like a star falling out of the sky. If a meteor does survive its journey through the atmosphere and lands on the earth, it is called a meteorite.
At certain times of year we can see a lot of meteors all at once because the earth is passing through a field of space rocks. These times of year are called “meteor showers” because so many space rocks are falling through the earth’s atmosphere at one time. Each year in late summer the Earth passes through a trail of dust and debris left by an ancient comet called Comet Swift-Tuttle. This creates a high number of meteors and is called the Perseid Meteor Shower because the meteors appear to come from within the constellation Perseus.
In 2018 the Perseid Meteor Shower will occur from July 17 to Aug. 24. It will peak on August 12th and 13th. The best way to see meteors is to go outside after dark, lie on your back and look straight up. You might have to wait. Bring a good snack – like popcorn! You might also like to know about solar eclipses.
This meteorite is an Artifact at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
“Meteorites are one of the few extraterrestrial, from outer space, materials scientists have to study. Most meteorites found on the ground are iron, which are very dense and appear quite different from ordinary rock. This is a Gibeon meteorite made up mostly of iron and nickel. These meteorites resulted in a huge meteor shower that occurred thousands of years ago. Upon hitting he earth’s atmosphere, a large iron mass (or masses) fragmented, showering down to Earth. These fragments were first reported in 1838, with more fragments showing up in following years as Europeans moved in.”
- NASA Space Place: Meteor Shower!
- NASA: Meteors & Meteorites Overview
- NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day: Perseid Meteors over Mount Shasta
- American Meteor Society: Meteor Shower Calendar
- European Space Agency for Kids: Meteors & Comets
- Printable: NASA Coloring Pages
- Facebook: NASA Meteor Watch
- Homework Hotline: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology FREE math and science homework help to Indiana students in grades 6-12.
Science in Context: Comets, Meteors & Asteroids is a database you can use in any IndyPL Library Branch or at home with your IndyPL Library Card. Login using your library card number and PIN. What’s My PIN? It will show you biographies, magazines, videos and more about Comets, Meteors & Asteroids.