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Date: Prior to 1993


Question:
Is a star that is traveling through space falling or going up?



Replies:
All of the stars we can see without using a telescope belong to our galaxy, the Milky Way. The Milky Way rotates, although not "rigidly", like a wheel; some parts of it take longer to make one trip around than others. Some of the stars are getting closer to the Earth, and some are moving farther away. We do not have to worry about one falling on us; they are all so very far away that we will not ever get hit by one. Actually, if a star could get close to the Earth, the Earth would fall into the star instead of the star falling on the Earth. Stars are MUCH bigger (more massive) than the Earth. Sometimes meteors are called "shooting stars"; they are not really stars at all, but instead are bits of rock (mostly dust or sand-sized, though occasionally they can be as big as a boulder). If you see one, it is probably only a few miles above you, and it IS falling (probably at an angle) to the Earth, very fast (that is why they become visible: friction with the air makes them glow, and usually they burn up long before they can reach the ground.)

Ronald Winther


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