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Meteor Showers 101 | National Geographic

nearly 50 tons of space debris crash
onto the earth every day while some
debris shyly dissipate into the
meteor showers occur when the Earth’s
orbit intersects with the orbit of a
comet as comets travel they leave behind
trails of rocky material often times the
size of pebbles or grains of sand but
sometimes as large as boulders every
year the earth crosses these trails of
debris known as meteoroids streams and
the planet becomes sprinkled with rocky
material the debris then raised through
the Earth’s atmosphere creating friction
with air particles and generating vast
amounts of heat this heat vaporizes and
illuminates the debris as they fall
creating streaks of light in the sky
popularly known as shooting stars these
celestial light shows are often named
after the constellation where they
appear to originate as seen from Earth’s
meteor showers that seem to fall from
the constellation Perseus are called the
Perseids and those appearing from the
constellation Gemini are called the
Geminids about30 meteor showers can be
seen from Earth throughout the course of
a year and because the showers are timed
with Earth’s orbit the celestial
phenomena are cyclical and occur at
regular intervals for example the
Perseid meteor shower happens every
August and the Geminid meteor shower
happens every December meteor showers
have inspired awe and admiration for
millennia in Christian tradition the
Perseid meteor showers symbolize the
tears of a saint
st. Lawrence who was executed in August
of the year 258 and in the first century
AD the astronomer Ptolemy believed that
shooting stars were sign of the gods
looking upon mortals and listening to
their wishes inspiring everything from
making wishes to reveling at the sky
meteor showers are a reminder of our
place in a dynamic and beautiful cosmic
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