A meteor is a small rock that falls into Earth's atmosphere from space. They can range in size from microscopic to asteroids although it is rare to observe on that is larger than a grain of sand.

When a meteor hits the atmosphere, it is traveling extremely fast, averaging 8 miles per second! This causes the rock to heat up and burn. What you will see is a fast streak across the sky. If they are large enough to survive the firery plunge through the atmosphere they will strike the ground as a meteorite.

Collecting Meteorites

Find a sheltered location in a yard or on a flat roof (get parents' permission) and place a pan or bowl up there. Make sure it doesn't get blown away. Leave it there for a few days making sure that it doesn't get rained in. When you get the pan, shake the dust into one corner and hold a magnet to it. The bits of metal that cling are tiny iron meteorites that fell softly to Earth.
Name of Shower Date of Peak Activity Normal Duration Expected Hourly Rates
Quadrantids Jan. 3 Jan. 1-4 50
Alpha Aurigids Feb. 8 Feb. 5-10 5
Virginids Mar. 20 Mar. 5-Apr. 2 5
Lyrids Apr. 21 Apr. 19-23 10-15
Eta Aquarids May 4 May 1-8 20
Ophiuchids June 20 June 17-25 20
Delta Aquarids July 29 July 26-31 25
Perseids Aug. 12 Aug. 10-14 60
Kappa Cygnids Aug. 20 Aug. 18-22 5-10
Alpha Aurigids Draconids Sept. 22 Sept. 20-24 5
Giacobini-Zinner Oct. 9 Oct. 7-11 Varies (low to high)
Orionids Oct. 21 Oct. 18-23 25
Taurids Nov. 1 Oct. 15-Dec. 1 15
Leonids Nov. 17 Nov. 14-20 Varies (low to high)
Geminids Dec. 13 Dec. 10-15 50
Ursids Dec. 22 Dec. 17-24 15

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