What is a Meteor Shower?
Moving or shooting stars are known as meteor showers. Meteoroids are tiny particles of debris or small rocks that float around in space. They range in size from a speck to 10m in diameter. As a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere at massive speeds, friction causes it to burn up, creating a bright light in the sky, known as a meteor. When comets and other cosmic bodies disintegrate, they leave large clusters of debris floating in space and as the Earth passes through them, we see a spectacular light show known as a meteor shower.
Times of meteor showers
The orbit of the Earth and the clouds of debris remain fairly constant, so astronomers know exactly when we will be passing through the showers. Some showers occur every year, others are more special and only happen once every 100 years! The showers are best seen after midnight and preferably from a dark place. They tend to radiate outwards from a central point, known as the radiant. Because the radiant can be located in relation to a known constellation, the showers are named after the constellation, such as the Leonids Shower, from Leo, or the Taurids Shower, from the constellation of Taurus.
Meteor showers can be spectacular, creating more than 1000 meteors in an hour. Man has always been intrigued by cosmic events and showers are often linked to unexplained phenomena like catastrophic natural disasters or the creation of mysterious megalith structures like Stonehenge. Keep an eye on local news and make a plan to view the next meteor shower. It will be an uplifting experience!