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 lot of meteors and is called the Perseid Meteor Shower because the meteors look like they are coming from the constellation Perseus.
In 2023 the Perseid Meteor Shower will occur from July 17 to August 24, and be at its peak around August 13.
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!
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."
Science in Context: Comets, Meteors & Asteroids is a database you can use in any IndyPL Library Branch or at home. Login using your IndyPL library card number. Science in Context will show you biographies, magazines, videos and more about Comets, Meteors & Asteroids.
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