Understanding Shooting Stars and Meteor Phenomena

What Are Shooting Stars?
What Are Shooting Stars?
Despite their name, shooting stars aren't stars at all. They're actually meteoroids—small particles from a comet or asteroid—that burn up upon entering the Earth's atmosphere, creating a streak of light.
The Speed of Meteors
The Speed of Meteors
Shooting stars, or meteors, blaze through the atmosphere at speeds ranging from 11 to 72 kilometers per second. That's up to 260,000 kilometers per hour, fast enough to travel around Earth in 6 minutes!
Meteors: Sizes and Frequencies
Meteors: Sizes and Frequencies
Meteors can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a boulder. Earth encounters millions of meteoroids daily, but most are too small to see and disintegrate quickly in the atmosphere.
Colors in the Meteor Trails
Colors in the Meteor Trails
The color of a meteor's trail is determined by its composition and the atmosphere's gases. Iron-rich meteors glow yellow, magnesium produces a blue-green color, and nitrogen and oxygen create a red or purple hue.
Famous Meteor Showers
Famous Meteor Showers
The Perseids and Geminids are two of the most famous meteor showers. The Perseids occur every August and arise from Comet Swift-Tuttle, while the Geminids appear in December and stem from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon.
Meteorites: Surviving the Journey
Meteorites: Surviving the Journey
When meteoroids survive the fiery trip through the atmosphere and land on Earth, they're called meteorites. These space rocks are invaluable to science, offering clues about the solar system's formation.
Impact on Earth's History
Impact on Earth's History
Shooting stars have played a dramatic role in Earth's history. For example, the Chicxulub impactor, a massive meteorite, is believed to have caused the mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.
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What are shooting stars really?
Comet fragments burning up
Asteroids outside Earth's atmosphere
Meteoroids burning in atmosphere