Originally written on June 30, 2021 – updated 2023
Today, June 30, is National Meteor Watch Day!
A meteor, better known as “shooting star”, is the visible streak of light from a heated and glowing meteoroid falling through the Earth’s atmosphere.
According to the legend, if you wished upon a shooting star your wish would come true.
This belief is believed to have originated in Greece, when a Greek astronomer Ptolemy, around AD 127-151, wrote that the Gods occasionally, out of curiosity, peer down at the Earth from between the spheres.
When this happened stars sometimes slip through the gap, becoming visible as shooting stars.
It was thought that because the Gods were already looking at us, they would be more receptive to any wishes we made.
Actually, thousands of meteoroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere on a daily basis, but very few of them actually reach the surface. When they do, they are called “meteorites.”
When space debris, for example, pieces of rock, enter the earth’s atmosphere, the surrounding air becomes scorching hot because of the friction.
Thus you see a shooting star that streaks through the sky, with flaming air surrounding it.
Most of the meteoroids that result in meteors actually are very small, and their size can vary of a closed fist to a merely size of a pebble
Meteors tend to be viewed during the night, and they are at their most visible when they are between 34 and 70 miles above the Earth. Once they reach between 31 and 51 miles above our planet, they usually disintegrate, while their glow time tends to last for around one second.
Although it may seem that we are able to see a big number of meteors, we actually only see a very small percentage of them. This is because only a very small number of meteoroids will hit the atmosphere of the Earth and then skip back into space.
Different hues in the light can be caused because of the speed and the chemical composition of the meteoroid. This means that you can see some exciting color combinations, including red (silicate), purple (potassium), green or blue (copper), yellow (iron), or yellow and orange (sodium).
The Perseids is one of the most active showers in the Northern Hemisphere. It has been named after Perseus, which is a constellation whereby most of the activity occurs.
The comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle releases particles that result in meteors showering down on the earth.
The Perseids are active during the summer months, typically from around the middle of July until the end of August. On some evenings, when there is a new moon and a clear sky, those watching the sky are able to see more than one meteor per every minute!
To celebrate National Meteor Watch Day, hope for clear skies and spend some time outside for star-gazing.
Or you can find out when the next meteor shower is going to take place!
You can also celebrate this day by reading up on some of the most interesting meteor facts.
The place to begin when it comes to meteors this is with Allan Hills 84001. This piece of rock did not make a massive impact because of how big it was.
Actually, it did not weigh a lot at all, as it was only around 176 grams. However, the reason it caused such a stir is because NASA scientists believed that it featured signs of alien life.
The United States President Bill Clinton even gave a press conference about it on the day that it was discovered. The researchers who assessed and evaluated the rock spotted what they believed to be deposits that contained iron, organic molecules, and tiny cells, which appeared similar to some of the bacteria that is produced on Earth. Unfortunately, these claims have since been explained by natural mechani sms, and so the belief that it was alien life has died down. However, it was certainly a massive deal at the time.
But, above all, remember if you see a shooting star make a wish. The Gods may answer it…
Images from web – Google Research