• Question: how does a 'shooting star' begin?

    Asked by TJ to Lisa, Mark, Rachel, Sammie, Stephen, Tim on 12 Mar 2018.
    • Photo: Tim Duckenfield

      Tim Duckenfield answered on 12 Mar 2018:

      A shooting star is a just some “stuff” from space that gets pulled in by Earth’s gravity, and burns up in our atmosphere. Meteor showers, which have lots of shooting stars, are formed because huge comets (massive rocks that fly through space) come past our solar system regularly. They shed bits off their outside, that fly into our atmosphere and burn up. But shooting stars could also be man-made, if a satellite burns up in the sky!

    • Photo: Lisa Baddeley

      Lisa Baddeley answered on 13 Mar 2018:

      I can add to what Tim has said in that there is going to be a large man-made shooting star sometime in March or April this year when an old chinese space station called Taingong-1 will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and burn up. Although we don’t know exactly where this will happen we do know it will happen somwhere between 43 degrees North and 43 degrees South in latitude. The majority of the station will burn up in the atmosphere creating some very cool shooting stars. Some small fragments might make it down to ground level and will probably crash into the ocean.