Meteor Shower: Causes, Types

 Meteor Shower

A meteor shower is a celestial phenomenon in which several meteors are seen to radiate from a single location in the night sky. These meteors are created by streams of cosmic debris known as meteoroids, which enter the atmosphere of the Earth at extremely high speeds on parallel paths.

Most meteor showers are known or thought to be related to active or extinct comets; they depict Earth’s transit through their orbits and collision with the streams of debris (usually ranging in size from sand grains to pebbles). The showers occur periodically, but because the densities of meteoroids in the streams (also known as meteor streams) are not uniform, their intensity varies greatly from year to year. Meteor showers are typically named for the constellation from which they seem to originate; for example, the Perseids appear to begin in the constellation Perseus, and the Leonids in Leo.

Small Solar System Bodies are non-planet objects that circle the Sun. These include asteroids, comets, and meteoroids. A meteoroid is an object with a diameter of less than one meter. Micrometeoroids are tiny meteorites. They might be as little as a single grain of sand. We refer to anything less than 30 micrometers as interplanetary dust.
When a meteoroid approaches the earth’s upper atmosphere, friction from the air heats it. The increased temperature causes the gases encircling the meteoroid to glow brightly, giving the appearance of a meteor. Meteors are also known as shooting stars or falling stars because of the spectacular trail of light they leave as they move through the sky.

A meteor is a visual phenomenon in which a fast-moving, burning rock appears as a streak of light. Meteors can be either meteoroids or asteroids. Meteors are often visible when they enter the thermosphere. They only have a few seconds until they burn up. However, fast or huge meteors can be seen from higher altitudes lasting up to a few minutes.

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What is a meteor?

When a meteoroid approaches the earth’s upper atmosphere, friction from the air heats it. The increased temperature causes the gases encircling the meteoroid to glow brightly, giving the appearance of a meteor. So, Meteors are essentially space rocks that fall onto planets or other celestial bodies.

Most meteors are extremely small, some as little as a grain of sand, and disintegrate in the atmosphere. Larger ones that make it through the atmosphere and reach the Earth’s surface are known as meteorites, and they are extremely rare.

Types of meteor

Meteors are classed based on their size, brightness, and distance from the Earth.

  • Earth grazers were meteors with long, rainbow tails that flew close to the horizon. After reflecting off the earth’s upper atmosphere, a large number of earth grazers reenter space. Other earth grazers disintegrate in the atmosphere, streaking across the sky like shooting stars.
  • Fireballs were larger meteors with sizes ranging from a basketball to a small truck. Earth grazers emit a brighter, longer-lasting light than fireballs. A fireball, according to the International Astronomical Union, is a “meteor clearer than any of the planets.”
  • Bolides were brighter yet larger than fireballs due to their repeated explosions into the atmosphere. These explosions might be heard and felt on Earth’s surface. According to some scientists, bolides are fireballs that cause a sonic boom as they travel through the atmosphere.

What is a meteor shower?

Meteors are essentially space rocks that fall onto planets or other celestial bodies. The atmosphere of a celestial body heats these rocks, making them look brighter. The light streak is not the rock itself, but rather the blazing hot air as the hot rock moves through the atmosphere. Meteor showers occur when a large number of meteoroids collide with a celestial body’s atmosphere.

Shower meteors are distinguished by what is known as their radiant. This is the location in the sky where they appear to originate. The radiant is typically recognized by the name of the main star or constellation in the sky region where they appears to originate, and this name is typically assigned to the shower itself.

Weather can sometimes impede a good view of meteor showers. Meteor showers in the summer are more anticipated than those in the winter because of the clear sky. Meteor showers occur at various times of the year, depending on when Earth passes through the path of a comet or asteroid. Some meteor showers occur regularly, while others emerge over several years, and some of the most spectacular displays, meteor storms, occur just once or twice in a lifetime.

Types of meteor Shower


The Leonid meteor shower is the brightest and most stunning, capable of generating a meteor storm that showers the sky with hundreds of meteors per minute at its peak. The name “meteor shower” was established after astronomers witnessed one of the Leonids’ most spectacular displays in 1833.


The Perseids are a meteor shower that has been seen for around 2000 years. They occur when Earth moves through the cloud of dust left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. The debris stream is known as the Perseid Cloud. The name is derived from the Greek word Perseidai. The most popular meteor shower of the year, it peaks on August 12 with around 60 meteors per minute, however, it is not as active as the Leonids.


Orionids are named after the Orion constellation, where they appear to originate. The Orionid meteor shower is made up of meteors from Halley’s comet, which circles the sun every 75 to 76 years. It is one of the most consistent annual meteor showers and should be seen around the entire world. The Orionids are one of the brightest and quickest meteor showers. This event is best witnessed from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres shortly after midnight.


The strong peak that lasts for several hours is well-known for the Quadrantids. The meteors appear to be coming from the constellation Boötes, near the Big Dipper. It typically occurs in late December and early January.During this occurrence, approximately 80 meteors per hour fall at a velocity of 25.5 miles/41 km per second. The Quadrantids are best seen in the northern hemisphere.


The Geminid meteor shower peaks on the evenings of December 13 and 14, and it lasts from November 19 to December 24. The Geminids, unlike most meteor showers on Earth, are caused by an asteroid. The dependable shower generates bright meteors connected with the asteroid Phaethon, an unusual blue rock that behaves like a comet. 


According to NASA, this shower is noted for its bright dust trains, which may be visible for several seconds. The Lyrids are connected with Comet Thatcher, a long-period comet that orbits the sun every 415.5 years; it made its closest approach to the sun in 1861. During this occurrence, approximately 20 meteors per hour fall at a velocity of 29.8 miles (48 kilometers per second). The Lyrids can be found by searching for the star Vega. This is one of the earliest known meteor showers. It has been seen for more than 2.700 years.

Sporadic meteor

The majority of meteors reaching the atmosphere are sporadic. These are the space debris found across the universe and in our solar system. The majority of this debris is caused by the Sun’s massive release of material into the universe. Unlike shower meteors, they come from all directions and do not have a radiant.

Causes in a variation of sporadic meter

More elements influence the number of meteors entering the atmosphere. One is the season, and this can be linked to two factors:

  • The first is that the density of debris from space surrounding the Earth’s orbit is not consistent. The density is higher in the orbital regions through which the Earth passes in June, July, and August.
  • The other explanation is due to the declination of the Earth’s axis. The polar axis tilts 22.5 degrees relative to the sun, resulting in seasonal variations in meteor rate. Areas at right angles to the direction of motion will receive the most meteors, while those at larger degrees will receive fewer.



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Kabita Sharma

Kabita Sharma, a Central Department of Chemistry graduate, is a young enthusiast interested in exploring nature's intricate chemistry. Her focus areas include organic chemistry, drug design, chemical biology, computational chemistry, and natural products. Her goal is to improve the comprehension of chemistry among a diverse audience through writing.

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