What is een shooting star (meteor)?

A meteor or shooting star is caused by a particle that enters the Earth’s atmosphere from space. The particle is sometimes called meteoroid.

Through the interaction with the atmosphere, light and heat are released and a so-called ionization trail is formed (from 100km of altitude). This is visible as the “tail” of the shooting star. The particle almost always evaporates or pulverises in the high atmosphere (above 20-50 km altitude). Most particles that give rise to meteors are not larger than a few milimeters. A clear meteor, also known as a fireball or a racing car, is a particle that is larger (several centimmeter or more). Often the fireball comes to its end at an altitude of 10 to 20 km. Sometimes this is accompanied by an explosion (without sound) and one also sees different colors. The larger the particle, the brighter the fireball, but also the speed (typically between 10 and 70 km/s) and the composition play a role. Sometimes sounds (pops) are heard during the passage in the atmosphere.

Only very rarely does a residue end up on the Earth’s surface. That is called a meteorite. There are many species, but they are very rare.