What’s a Meteor Shower? | Astronomy for Kids


Squeaks and I built this awesome observatory
recently, and we love using it to look at the night sky! If you’ve ever looked up on a dark, clear
night, you probably noticed that there are a lot of things to see. You can see the Moon, the stars, and even
some planets! And if you’re really lucky, you might get
to see a meteor: a streak of light that bursts across the sky. Since the light that meteors make looks kind
of like the bright light that stars make, a lot of people call meteors “shooting stars.” But meteors aren’t stars at all! Stars are big balls of gas way out in space,
far, far away from the Earth. But meteors are caused by pieces of rock and
metal that are pulled close to the Earth. It all starts when a small piece of rock or
metal breaks away from something bigger in space. Most of the time, these pieces are small — not
much bigger than a grain of rice. And some are only about the size of a piece
of dust! When the pieces fall toward Earth, they’re
going so fast that they heat up the air all around them and burn up, making the air glow. That’s the light we see in the sky — it’s
a little piece of rock or metal burning up! We call the falling piece a meteoroid, and
the light it makes is the meteor. When the meteoroid is completely burned, the
meteor is gone, and the light disappears. If the piece is very small, the light might
only last for less than a second. If the piece is larger, though, the streak
might race the whole way across the sky! And if the piece is large enough, it can make
it all the way through the layer of gases… and hit the surface of the Earth. If it does, then it gets a new name … a
meteorite. [Squeaks squeaks] I know! That’s a lot of words that sound almost
the same. But they’re all different: the meteor is
the streak of light, the meteoroid is what we call the bit of rock or metal as it falls,
and the meteorite is what we call it when it hits the ground. Thousands of meteorites fall to the ground
every year, but most of them are really small, so we don’t notice them! And there are even more meteoroids that burn
up before they can get to the ground. During certain times of the year, there are
a lot more meteors than usual. There can be 60 of them in an hour! That’s called a meteor shower, because there
are so many meteors falling through the sky that it’s almost like we’re taking a shower
in them! [Squeaks laughs] I know, that is kind of funny! Can you imagine taking a shower in falling
rocks and dust? I think I’d rather stick to water instead Meteor showers happen because of something
else in outer space, called a comet. Comets are usually very far away from the
Earth, all the way out at the edge of the solar system. But sometimes one passes close by, right near
the path where Earth moves around the sun! As it passes by, some dust from the comet
breaks off, and the dust can stay in that spot for a really long time. Every year, when the Earth gets close to the
spot where the dust is as it moves around the sun, lots of the dust falls toward Earth,
and each little piece of it creates a meteor. That’s when we get a meteor shower! There are a few different meteor showers all
throughout the year. There are big ones in January, April, May,
July, August, October, November, and December, so there are lots of chances to see them! In fact, Squeaks and I are about to get to
see one of the biggest meteor showers of the year, called the Perseids. The best nights to see it are right around
August 12. You can ask a grownup to help you find out
when you’ll next be able to see a meteor shower. Then, all you need to do is to find a dark
spot, look up … and enjoy the light show! Have you ever seen a meteor? How about a meteor shower? Ask a grownup to help you leave a comment
below, or send us an email at [email protected]

53 thoughts on “What’s a Meteor Shower? | Astronomy for Kids”

  1. Thank you so much! Your videos makes me very interested into learning science! I'd love to explore more about science exploration in the future!

  2. hey Jessi I wonder why Earth is tilted i know it is caused by a Hugeeeeeee Meteor Shower and thats all i know im an eight year old girl and i go to my school at the Philippines at mandaluyong but i live in manila hope you have a good day! Bye Jessi amd Squeks!

  3. We are going to watch the Perseids tonight!! Thanks for the great explanatory video to help our kids understand what they'll be seeing.

  4. We just saw Perseids meteor shower last night and then searched this video. What an amazingly beautiful experience and a great video! Thanks!

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