shooting stars from earth

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Here’s one I haven’t seen before. Perseid meteors viewed from above, from the International Space Station, 2 in about 2 seconds from the high resolution downlooking camera.

Here is a photo of a meteor as it passed through our atmosphere, taken from the vantage point of the International Space Station. This image was taken on August 13th 2011, during the Perseid Meteor Shower, while the station was about 400km northwest of Beijing.

So, what are Meteoroids and Meteorites?

Meteoroids are relatively small objects that are moving throughout the solar system which are attracted toward Earth by its gravitational pull. These small fragments are usually fragments of asteroids or comets. When they enter our atmosphere they begin to burn up as they collide with air molecules; this is why a bright vapour trail or streak can be seen- at this point the object is known as a meteor, or often a “shooting star”. If any piece of the object survives the journey through the atmosphere and impacts Earth’s surface (as what happened in Russia); we call it a meteorite.

-Jean

PS: Also visible in this photo is green and yellow air glow. This phenomenon appears at levels above 50km in the atmosphere- here atoms and molecules are excited by sunlight during the day and then release the energy at night.

Image courtesy of NASA’s Earth Observatory.