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Today is Meteor Day! The word “meteor” refers to a visible streak of light that is produced by debris falling to the Earth from space. We also call this beautiful phenomenon a “shooting star” or “falling star.” The tradition of wishing upon a shooting star can be traced all the way back to 127 AD. Ptolemy, the Greek astronomer, hypothesized that the Gods occasionally liked to peer down on Earth from up above. From time to time, a star or two would slip past them and fall through the heavens. Anyone who saw a shooting star knew that the Gods were paying attention, so it was the perfect time to make a wish!
Did you know that shooting stars are actually quite small? The average meteoroid is about the size of a pebble. Around 15,000 tons of meteoroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere every day, but very few of them actually reach the surface. When they do reach Earth, they are called meteorites.
To celebrate Meteor Day, spend some time star-gazing tonight, or find out when the next meteor shower is going to happen. If you see a shooting star, remember to make a wish!