A meteor shower is a celestial event in which a number of meteors are observed to radiate, or come from, a point in the night sky. These meteors are caused by streams of cosmic debris called meteoroids entering the Earth's atmosphere at extremely high speeds on parallels.
Most meteors are smaller than a grain of sand, so almost all disintegrate and have never touched the Earth's surface. Very intense or unusual meteor showers are known as meteor explosions and meteor storms, which produce at least 1,000 meteors per hour, especially from the Leonids.
The Meteor Data Centre lists more than 900 suspected meteor showers, of which about 100 are well established. Several organizations point to the possibilities of posting on the Internet.
The first major meteor storm in the modern was the Leonids of November 1833. One estimate is a peak rate of more than one hundred thousand meteors per hour, but another, as the storm subsided, estimated at more than two hundred thousand meteors during the 9-hour storm, over the entire North American region east of the Rocky Mountains.
The American Denison Olmsted (1791-1859) explained the event with the utmost precision. After spending the last weeks of 1833 gathering information, he presented his findings in January 1834 to the American Journal of Science and Arts, published in January-April 1834 and January 1836.
I noted that the rain was short-lived and was not seen in Europe, and that the meteors radiated from a point in the constellation Leo and he speculated that the meteors had come from a cloud of particles in space.
Work continued, but eventually they understood the annual nature of the showers, although storm events puzzled researchers.
Famous meteor showers:
- Perseids and Leonids
- Other meteor showers
- Established meteor showers
Extraterrestrial meteor showers
Any other body in the solar system with a reasonably transparent ay atmosphere can also have meteor showers. As the Moon is in the vicinity of the Earth, it may experience the same showers, but will have its own phenomena due to its lack of an atmosphere in itself, such as the greatly increase in its sodium tail.
NASA now maintains an ongoing database of observed impacts on the Moon maintained by the Marshall Space Flight Center, whether it is a shower or not.
Many planets and moons have impact craters dating back to large periods of time. But new craters, perhaps even related to meteor showers, are possible. Mars, and therefore its moons, is known to have meteor showers.
These have not yet been observed on other planets, but can be presumed to exist. For Mars in particular, although these are different from those observed on Earth because the different orbits of Mars and Earth in relation to the orbits of comets.
- The Martian atmosphere has less than one percent of the Earth's density at ground level, at their upper edges, where meteoroids strike, both are more similar.
- Due to the air pressure similar to altitudes for meteors, the effects are about the same.
Only the relatively slower movement of meteoroids due to the increase in distance from the sun should slightly decrease the brightness of the meteors. This is somewhat balanced in that the slower descent means that Martian meteors have more time to ablater.