As a comet comes close to
the Sun, the surface material is melted down or vaporizes and is swept
away by the solar winds. These particles of dust and ice are
destined to float through space forever... Unless the path of the comet
and the orbit of the Earth intersect. In that case, these particles
produce an awesome and beautiful spectacle known as a meteor shower.
As the Earth passes through the debris left behind by the comet, these
particles enter our upper atmosphere. Moving at up to 2650 miles per
hour, these particles super-heat and produce a meteor.
Before I explain further,
let me defined some terms. A meteroid is a particle of debris from
the size of a grain of sand to the size of a small car that is floating in
space. A meteor is the light that is produced as a meteroid passes
through our atmosphere. Now, if that meteoroid survives the trip
through our atmosphere and hits the ground, then it becomes a meteorite.
Many people have thought that they discovered a meteorite, but after
analysis they found it was just a rock... This is known as a meteor-wrong.
The best time to observe a
meteor shower is between the midnight and sunrise. This is when the dark
side of the Earth is facing directly into the stream of debris. You will
see four (4) times the number of meteors after midnight than before.