Meteor Showers

- Demonstrate an understanding of meteors, fireballs and annual meteor showers
- Relate the occurrence of annual meteor showers to cometary orbits and account for their apparent divergence from a radiant point

Meteors are fragments of dust from comets or asteroids that Earth smashes into as it orbits the Sun. On Earth we see a streak of light or ‘shooting star’.

Meteors are mostly seen after midnight, as that is when the Earth from your location is facing forwards like the front of a car travelling along a road. In fact you could imagine the meteors as bugs that get hit by the forward moving Earth-car!

At different times of year we can see meteor showers which last up to several hours.

They also appear to come from one particular constellation and these showers are named after the constellation.

The meteors are parallel to each other but they seem to come from one point called a radiant. Imagine standing on a bridge over a motorway. You see cars coming to the left and right of you but the lines are parallel.

The best known meteor showers are the Perseids (from the constellation Perseus in August and the Leonids in the constellation Leo), and some can produce up to 100 meteors an hour.

 

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Meteor Showers



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Space Weather Latest Meteor Shower information

Questions

- Describe the main features of meteor showers.

- What is a 'radiant'?

Activity

Research at least one meteor shower that takes place every month. You should find out the radiant point and how many meteors can be seen per hour.