PEKKA PARVIAINEN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PEKKA PARVIAINEN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Image of a meteor track in the constellation of Cygnus. Meteor tracks, also known as falling or shooting stars, are caused by tiny dust grains which enter Earth's atmosphere at speeds between 35 and 95 km/s, at a rate of about 16,000 tonnes per year. The air resistance incandesces the particles making them visible as streaks of light. On a clear moonless night about 10 meteors per hour may be seen. Meteor showers occur regurarly each year when the Earth crosses the orbit of a comet and its debris enters into the atmosphere. In a meteor shower the observational rate may increase up to 120 per hour.
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