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The Geminid Meteor Shower

13 Dec 2013, 15:25 UTC
The Geminid Meteor Shower
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We may be in the grip of some Arctic weather here in the US right now, but if you can stand to venture outside then the skies have a treat in store this week, in the shape of the Geminid meteor shower. Hyped as the best meteor shower of any given year, the Geminids reaches its peak this weekend (13/14 December).So what is a meteor?They’re also known colloquially as ‘shooting stars,’ but have nothing to do with stars. A lot of things in astronomy that are basically the same are given different names depending on how and where we see them. Space debris is no different. A small, solid body moving within the Solar System is known as a meteoroid. If that meteoroid happens to cross paths with the Earth, it burns up in the atmosphere, creating the distinctive streak that we know as a meteor. In exceptional cases, a large rock might not entirely burn up, and survives intact to hit the ground. The solid remains that hit the Earth’s surface are known as meteorites.Space is full of debris. A quick look at the crater-covered moon is a good indicator of what the Earth might look like if we ...

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