You must have seen a shooting star during the night from the terrace of your building or while camping in a dark forest. You will be surprised to know that the shooting stars are not stars at all.
Shooting stars are small pieces of dust and rock called a meteoroid, which falls into the Earth’s atmosphere and leave a trail of light behind them. We also call them meteors, and scientists believe that they are broken fragments of comets, which still move about in space when the comet itself does so no longer.
We see them when they enter our atmosphere because they leave a trail of light behind them, caused by the friction of the air on their surfaces.
Most meteors are very small, but some can weigh several tons, and the vast majority of them disintegrate when they pass through the heat of the earth’s atmosphere. But some meteors, the larger ones, do land on earth, and when they do we call them meteorites.
There are two main types of a meteor – those made of minerals, which look like a rock and are called aerolites, and those made chiefly of Nickle and iron, which we call metallic meteors.
When the meteoroids are larger in size, they explode in the atmosphere and leave an extremely bright trail of light which can last for more than a minute. They are known as bolide and sometimes also referred to as a fireball.
Although it is very rare for a meteorite to fall on dry land, scientists think that many fall to earth every day, but that they land in the water which makes up two-thirds of the earth’s surface. This is why we hardly ever notice when they do hit the earth.
You might have heard in news or even attended some stargazing night events about the meteor shower event in which we can see a large number of meteors in the night sky. At this time of the year, Earth passes through the trail of debris left by the comet while orbiting around the Sun.
For example, during mid-August every year, as Earth drifts through the debris cloud left by the giant comet called Comet Swift–Tuttle, we can observe the brightest batch of shooting stars, called as Perseids meteor shower which is the best-known shower and most reliable in performance.
Here is the list of meteor showers that occurs in both northern and southern hemisphere.
|Name||Dates (as of 2019)||Rating|
|Antihelion Source||10 Dec – 10 Sep||medium|
|Quadrantids||28 Dec – 12 Jan||bright|
|Gamma Ursae Minorids||26 Jan – 8 Feb||medium|
|omicron Hydrids||31 Jan – 20 Feb|
|Alpha Centaurids||31 Jan – 20 Feb||bright|
|Gamma Normids||25 Feb – 28 Mar||bright|
|Lyrids||14 Apr – 30 Apr||bright|
|Pi Puppids||15 Apr – 28 Apr||bright|
|Eta Aquariids||19 Apr – 28 May||bright|
|Eta Lyrids||3 May – 14 May||medium|
|Daytime Arietids||14 May – 24 Jun||medium|
|Tau Herculids||19 May – 19 Jun||medium|
|June Bootids||22 Jun – 2 Jul||bright|
|49 Andromedids||6 Jul – 14 Aug||medium|
|Piscis Austrinids||15 Jul – 10 Aug||medium|
|Southern Delta Aquariids||12 Jul – 23 Aug||bright|
|Alpha Capricornids||3 Jul – 15 Aug||bright|
|Perseids||17 Jul – 24 Aug||bright|
|Kappa Cygnids||3 Aug – 25 Aug||medium|
|Aurigids||28 Aug – 5 Sep||bright|
|September Epsilon Perseids||5 Sep – 21 Sep||medium|
|Daytime Sextantids||9 Sep – 9 Oct||bright|
|October Camelopardalids||5 Oct – 6 Oct||bright|
|Draconids||6 Oct – 10 Oct||medium|
|Southern Taurids||10 Sep – 20 Nov||bright|
|Delta Aurigids||10 Oct – 18 Oct||medium|
|Epsilon Geminids||14 Oct – 27 Oct||medium|
|Orionids||2 Oct – 7 Nov||bright|
|Leonis Minorids||19 Oct – 27 Oct||medium|
|Andromedids||25 Sep – 6 Dec||medium|
|Northern Taurids||20 Oct – 10 Dec||bright|
|Leonids||6 Nov – 30 Nov||bright|
|Alpha Monocerotids||15 Nov – 25 Nov||bright|
|November Orionids||13 Nov – 6 Dec||medium|
|Phoenicids||22 Nov – 9 Dec||medium|
|Puppid-Velids||1 Dec – 15 Dec||medium|
|Monocerotids||5 Dec – 20 Dec||medium|
|Sigma Hydrids||3 Dec – 15 Dec||medium|
|Geminids||4 Dec – 17 Dec||medium|
|Comae Berenicids||12 Dec – 23 Dec||medium|
|Ursids||17 Dec – 26 Dec||medium|
So save the dates and don’t forget to experience the meteor shower.
Happy meteor shower gazing! 🙂