What is a meteor shower? Experts share fun facts


LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – If you take a peek at the night sky this weekend, there’s a good chance you’ll see some meteors darting across the sky.

According to experts at the Abrams Planetarium, they actually happen multiple times throughout the year but this particular meteor shower always takes over the sky in mid-August.

“This meteor shower that’s happening this weekend is the Perseid meteor shower.”

Which according to Shannon Schmoll, the Director of the Abrams Planetarium at Michigan State University, comes from the constellation called “Perseis” and that’s when…

“It looks like all of these meteors are coming from one point to the sky and then falling through the atmosphere and so that point happens to be in the constellation Perseis,” Schmoll added.

But what exactly is a meteor shower? Schmoll says its more than just streaks of light beaming across the solar system.

“A meteor shower is when the earth passes through this debris field left by a comet that’s passed through our orbit several times and we’re picking up these little particles of dust left over from the comet like bugs on a windshield…and so its falling through our atmosphere and they’re burning up as they fall and that’s the streak of light that you see,” she says.

It’s also something astronomers can predict.

“The reason why we have these annual meteor showers is because its debris left by these comets that pass by our orbit and so this particular meteor shower is from the debris left by the comet ‘Swift Tuttle’ and it has about a 133 year orbit…and so its way out in the outer solar system again and last time it passed through was in 1992,” said Schmoll.

Schmoll also says Saturday night is a “new moon” meaning the moon will be completely dark, which is a good thing is because it will drown out the light allowing the meteors to become more visible.

And one more fun fact for you all…if you happen to miss this weekend’s meteor shower, Schmoll says you can witness another bright and beautiful one in December.

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