We see them in heaven. Possibly we make a wish when we get to see one of them. But do you know what shooting stars really are? They are closely associated with our most mystical culture, since “magical” and “divine” properties have always been attributed to it, but the reality is very different. In this article, we are going to unravel the universe and, for this, we are going to explain what is a shooting star so that you know what you are seeing when you look up at the sky and you find such a spectacle.
What is a shooting star?
To know what shooting stars are, we must first understand that what we call “stars” are actually meteors. That is, they are small cosmic particles (between 1 millimeter to a few centimeters, never too many) that enter our atmosphere at a very high speed and, due to the contrast, the air around these particles becomes ionized and, therefore, we can see that luminous tail so characteristic of shooting stars.
Depending on its size, each shooting star can be very different from the other and give off more or less light, go faster or slower, and so on. Although, as a general rule, they tend to be particles that travel very fast and, therefore, it gives us the feeling that it is “fleeting” but it does not mean that, because we do not see it, it no longer exists: on the contrary. It travels so fast that it does not allow us to capture its route and, therefore, for us it is as if it had disappeared.
And if it has ever seemed to you that the star had a different hue, for example, more reddish, bluish or even greenish, it is because the composition of this meteor itself has elements that can alter its natural color.
Where do the shooting stars come from?
To find the origin of these particles we have to refer to comets because these formations that we find in the universe tend to lose material throughout their lives and, from these detachments, it is where shooting stars come from. So, depending on the quality of each comet and its mass, it may be stripped of more or less large pieces and, then, is when we talk about shooting stars or racing cars.
A bolide is a much brighter meteor than the ordinary shooting star and they leave a trail in our sky for much longer. Such is its brightness that, even with the sky covered with clouds, they can be seen; They are also usually visible when it is daytime.
When the particle lost by the comet is very large, it is when we talk about meteorites. Normally, these tend to burn when they come into contact with the Earth’s atmosphere and lose their mass. Our planet is constantly receiving meteorites that are microscopic in size but also larger.
Shooting stars in our culture
Now that we know what a shooting star is, we are going to relate it to our culture because, since ancient times, it has been investigated about the spatial elements and their link with humanity. The Babylonians were the first to observe meteor showers, something we know from the annotated tablets dating from 747 BC.
The Chinese culture of 687, during the Chou dynasty, also insisted on observing the behavior of the stars and bore witness to the very special event of the “star showers”.
Until the late 20th century, astronomers did not have the necessary material to predict when this phenomenon of space would take place. The model that was tested in the Leonids in 1999 managed to hit the exact time this phenomenon would take place in our atmosphere with unparalleled precision.
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