Look! Up in the sky! It’s a falling star! Or is it? If you’ve ever seen a bright glow streaking through the sky at night, you probably have already guessed: It’s not an actual star.
There are millions of particles that hit Earth’s atmosphere every day. They range from the size of a grain of sand to several meters in diameter, and when they strike our atmosphere, they are traveling at tremendous speeds. Up to 150,000 miles per hour. That’s 75 times faster than a rifle bullet!
Meteors may be at an altitude of over 65 miles when first spotted, and the bright glow is caused by the shock wave created when a meteoroid enters the atmosphere with such extreme speed. Many of these don’t survive the journey, and most burn up long before reaching the surface of Earth.
Because some meteors are caused by debris from comets, we are able to predict when there will be meteor showers.
During these events, many meteors will be visible over the course of a night or two. Occasionally, we are treated to a show where several thousand meteors are seen in a night, and the Leonid meteor shower of 1833 yielded more than 100,000 per hour, inspiring the traditional song “Stars Fell on Alabama”.
The space debris is called a meteoroid until it hits our atmosphere. Then it becomes a meteor as it flashes across the sky, only to become a meteorite if it makes it down to Earth.
Be sure to go to www.davidrives.com and enter your email to be informed of upcoming meteor showers and other astronomical events that you won’t want to miss.
I’m David Rives,
Truly, the Heavens Declare the Glory of God.
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