DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Meteor tracks and star trails above Santorini, Greece, artwork. The meteor tracks (running from upper right to lower left) are caused by tiny bits of space rock and dust burning up in the Earth's atmosphere. The high speeds of impact cause the rock to vaporize and create a shockwave in the air in front of the meteor. The trail is much larger than the rock causing it. Most meteors burn up high in the Earth's atmosphere before they reach the ground. Those that do reach the ground are called meteorites. Clusters of meteors are called meteor showers. Star trails, seen in time-exposure photography, are due to the Earth's rotation.
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