During the nights, if there isn’t much light from the city or a house, from time to time shooting stars can be seen. The shooting stars leave a luminous trail behind them, from here their name, which is like a line drawn in the sky. These “lines” last for a very short period of time in the night sky, and disappear after a second. For this reason we don’t see them very often, apart from that they aren’t very common.
What is what it provokes it?
In the space, there are many meteorites. In fact, a shooting star is a small rock or an ensemble of dust that enters in the Earth’s atmosphere. Sometimes, some of these meteorites crosses with the Earth’s trajectory and enter in its atmosphere. When entering, the rock goes so fast and it is heated so much that it disintegrates, leaving a luminous trail behind it. The shooting stars are, in fact, what the astronomers call meteors.
It seems incredible, but the most part of times, the rocks and dust that provoke the shooting stars have dimensions that can variate between a millimetre and some centimetres. It’s impressive how a particle of rock or dust can provoke a such nice phenomenon.
The atmospheric friction is capable of disintegrating meteors of some kilogrammes. However, if the particle is too big, it’s possible that it doesn’t disintegrate completely and that it reaches the Earth’s surface. The meteor receives then the name of meteorite. Our planet receives constantly, and in big quantities, meteorites that have a microscopic size, and some of them, bigger. Even so, there are also meteors of some kilometres, that, in the past, impacted against the Earth’s surface, forming enormous craters that even nowadays exist.
The meteor showers
When there is a meteor shower, during one or two nights, there are more meteors than normally that enter in the Earth’s atmosphere. During these nights, the number of the shooting stars that can be seen variate according to the meteor shower that takes place. These numbers can variate between 15 shooting stars per hour to 100 meteors per hour.
These meteor showers are caused by comets that approach annually at the solar system, and that, due to the solar wind, there are particles of rocks that detach from the comet and that, some of them, enter in the Earth’s atmosphere. As I said previously, when entering in the terrestrial atmosphere, these particles disintegrate, forming a luminous trail behind them that we call shooting star.
During the year, there are different meteor showers, and each of them gets a different name. The most know meteor shower and where the most shooting stars can be seen with more frequency, are the Perseids, also know as the tears of San Lorenzo. The epoch in which we can see the Perseids is in finals of august.