Shine Bright, Be a Meteor
When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, if you think that it’s a star you’re just plain wrong. If you were fortunate enough to witness the beautiful Perseid meteor shower that peaked last night, what you saw were not falling stars to save for a rainy day. Hate to break it to you, but they were actually particles of dust and debris left over from Comet Swift-Tuttle aka #Tuttleswift that orbits the sun every 133 years.
When #Tuttleswift got a little too close to the sun, debris from the comet came off and us lucky earthlings get to watch as the bits of rock make their final journey into our atmosphere as meteors.
So, what are meteors to begin with? Well, a meteor is a space rock as small as a grain of sand as long as a meter stick. As it flies through the Earth’s atmosphere, the wind whipping around the particle warms up. What we see from the ground is not the meteor, but rather the super hot air around the rock streaking through the sky. If the meteor can make it to the surface of the earth without burning up, it is called a meteorite.
During your average night, you can see a few shooting stars, but not many. That’s not the case during a meteor shower. If conditions are right, the sky will be #lit during a meteor shower, with last night’s estimated at about 200 falling stars per hour. When comets streak through the sky they leave behind some debris. If Earth slides close enough to that debris field, particles left behind will get caught in Earth’s orbit and make their fiery entrance into the atmosphere. Thanks to our good friend Jupiter, the debris left by #Tuttleswift in 1862, 1479, and 1079 got a nudge closer to our home making for a meteor storm.
Bummed out you missed it? Not to worry! You can view the Perseid’s tonight as well, although there will be fewer meteors to see. Additionally, regular meteor showers occur throughout the year, the next one being the Orionids on October 21st. The best way to view a meteor shower is outside away from tall objects and bright light, including the light from your phone and the moon. Give your eyes anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes to adjust to the night sky, get comfy, and make as many wishes as you want! Just please don’t put a meteorite in your pocket, should you find one.
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