It has been said that if you see a Shooting Star, close your eyes and make a wih and that wish will come true. Shooting star is also called a Falling Star. The term “Shooting Star” is very well known in arts and entertainment; songs;film, television, and theater as well as literature. Other things named after it include football teams–Shooting Star F.C.-a Nigerian Football Team; Shooting Star Casino, Minnesota; P-80 Shooting Star, a United States Army Air Forces jet fighter; basketball competition aptly named NBA All-Star Weekend Shooting Stars. But have you ever thought about those shooting stars and what they really are? Can you believe that a “falling star” or a “shooting star” has nothing at all to do with a star–because they are not stars at all!
The visible path of a meteoroid as it enters the atmosphere (meteor), is commonly called a Shooting Star. Shooting Star may also refer to a hypervelocity star, a type of star that moves at unusually high velocities across the galaxy. These amazing streaks of light sometimes seen in the night sky are caused by tiny bits of dust and rock called meteoroids falling into the Earths’ atmosphere and burning up. The short-lived trail of light the burning meteoroid produces is called a meteor. Meteors are commonly called falling stars or shooting stars. If any part of the meteoroid survives burning up and actually hits the Earth, the result is a meteorite.
The dust and rocks that cause meteor showers come primarily from the Earth passing through the debris stream left behind by a comet as it orbits the Sun. Usually, the Earths’ orbit and the comes’ orbit are slightly tilted relative to one another, so their paths only intersect on one side!
At certain times of year, you are likely to see a great number of meteors in the night sky. These events are called meteor showers and they occur when the Earth passes through the trail of debris left by a comet as it orbits the Sun. These showers are given names based on the constellation present in the sky from which they appear to originate. For example, the Leonid Meteor Shower, or Leonids, appear to originate in the constellation Leo. It is important to understand that the meteoroids (and therefore the meteors) do not really originate from the constellations or any of the stars in the constellations. However, they just seem to come from that part of the sky because of the way the Earth encounters the particles moving in the path of the comets’ orbit. Associating the shower name with the region of the sky they seem to come from just helps astronomers know where to look!
You might want to note that one of the best meteor showers, the Perseids, happens in August. It can be called the “peak time” for shooting stars when you are likely to see the largest number of meteors per hour. It occurs in the middle of August, can be quite spectacular to see and many of your wildest wishes may come true !!