FRANK ZULLO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FRANK ZULLO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Meteor. Leonid meteor (at lower left) streaking towards the bright star Sirius (at centre right) in the Canis Major constellation. Meteors, also called falling or shooting stars, are microscopic dust grains which enter the Earth's atmosphere with speeds of 35-95 kilometres per second. Air resistance incandesces the particles, making them visible as streaks of light. Leonid meteor showers occur annually for about 2 days around 17 November when the Earth crosses the orbit of debris produced by the Tempel-Tuttle 1886 I comet. During this period there are 5-20 meteors each hour, but about once every 33 years the rate can reach up to tens of thousands each hour.
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