• Question: Why do shooting stars look like they're falling or shooting in the sky? why does this happen?

    Asked by sarahbrannigan to Aggelos, Andrew, Eileen, Naomi, Shane on 19 Nov 2012.
    • Photo: Aggelos Zacharopoulos

      Aggelos Zacharopoulos answered on 19 Nov 2012:

      In reality shooting stars are not stars but rocks and dust from a comet trails that get caught in the earth’s atmosphere. They look like bright stars because due to their high speed, the friction with the atmospheric air causes them to burn brightly. A more scientific name for them is meteoroids and the bright trails that they leave in the night sky are called meteors. Most of them burn out very high in the atmosphere and never reach the ground. But sometimes big ones do make it to the ground before they burn out. We call them meteorites and they are very interesting to study and analyse.

      Showers of shooting stars or “meteor showers” as they are called, are an amazing spectacle especially on a clear summer night away from city lights. Perseids is one of the most famous and best meteor showers that appear in the night sky around the beginning of August every year. Do try and watch them if you get the chance!

    • Photo: Eileen Diskin

      Eileen Diskin answered on 20 Nov 2012:

      Another bright light that we can sometimes see moving is the international space station, which after the sun and then the moon, is the brightest object in the sky!

      The international space station was launched in 1998. Its about the size of a football pitch, and has a crew of people living on it! They do lots of experiments – in some of these, they’re trying to figure just how possible it is for people to live in outer space. The do everything up there – research, sleep, eat, and even have some time to relax and have fun!

      There’s a cool website where you can sign up to get ‘alerts’ about when the space station is going to pass overhead where you’re living so you can go outside and check it out! I don’t think they’d see you if you wave…but maybe its worth a try 😉


    • Photo: Andrew Jackson

      Andrew Jackson answered on 20 Nov 2012:

      these guys have the answers covered already! i have been too slow this time!