What is a Meteor Shower?
A meteor shower is a celestial event in which a number of meteors are observed to radiate, or originate, from one point in the night sky. These meteors are caused by streams of cosmic debris called meteoroids entering Earth’s atmosphere at extremely high speeds on parallel trajectories.
Most meteors are smaller than a grain of sand and burn up completely in the atmosphere before reaching the ground; however, occasionally much larger ones strike the ground causing significant damage or explosion.
Meteor showers have been observed for over 2,000 years and usually occur once per year or less. The vast majority of known meteor showers are unrelated to comets; however, some (such as the Quadrantids) appear to be associated with debris left behind by comets such as comet 2003 EH1
What causes a meteor shower?
The cause of most annual meteor showers is currently unknown but they seem to be associated with certain streamsof particles that orbit around our sun . The particles involved must be very small—no bigger than specks of dust—and numerous enough so that when they enter Earth’s atmosphere they produce visible streaks across the sky .
It has long been thought that many annual meteor showers were produced by periodic cometary activity , but this idea was challenged in 1983 when it was shown that none of six well-studied annual displays could plausibly result from any known comet.
How are meteor showers named?
Meteor showers are named after the constellation that they appear to originate from. This is because when you trace the path of a meteor back, it appears to come from a specific point in the sky. For example, the Perseids shower appears to come from the constellation Perseus.
Are meteor showers dangerous?
Meteor showers are not dangerous. They are simply caused by small pieces of space debris (dust and rocks) entering Earth’s atmosphere at high speeds. When these particles enter our atmosphere, they friction and heat up, causing them to glow brightly and disintegrate into streaks of light across the sky.