Date: 1999 - 2000
Why do stars fall?
The stars that you see shining in the sky are huge, very
huge celestial bodies and are very very far away from
our solar system. They are in fire, in a temperature
very high, and that is why they shine. And they dont
"fall"...Our Sun is a quite small star but we see it big
because it is quite close to us compared with the others
that we see so small because of the distance.
What is commonly called "falling stars" are meteors
or meteorites that are small pieces of rock and debris
running in the solar system; if one pass close to
the Earth the gravity force attracts it toward the land.
And when it enters the atmosphere the velocity and
the friction sets in fire the whole or part of it...then
we see if falling brilliantly and people call a "falling
star"...Several times of the year the Earth passes
close to a region of space where there are many of
these meteors...and if you are lucky you will be able
to see at the same time several of them falling,
it is a very beautiful spectacle.
Thanks for asking NEWTON
(Dr. Mabel Rodrigues)
They don't. What looks like a falling star is actually a meteor
entering earth's atmosphere and getting hot enough to glow brightly
from bashing through all those air molecules.
Those are not actual "stars" that are falling. What you see is actually a
small rocky body called a meteoroid which is hitting the atmosphere of our
planet. When it does this it becomes what we call a meteor which is your
falling star. When it hits the atmosphere of our planet the air begins to
rub against it. Like when you rub your hands together, this creates a lot
of heat. This causes it to heat up and glow, which makes it look like a
falling star. If any of the rock survives and hits the ground, then it is
called a meteorite.
York High School
Click here to return to the Astronomy Archives
Update: June 2012