Science from home: Meteors & meteorites

Weather

What you need:

  • Plate or other container
  • Water
  • A few of small objects (example: nuts, seeds, small fruit, ice cube)

Steps:

  1. Fill your plate or container about 2/3 the way full with water
  2. Hold a small object above the plate
  3. Drop the object onto the plate
  4. Watch what happens, and how the water reacts
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 with different sized objects, or by changing the height or angle that the object is dropped or thrown onto the plate
  6. Observe how the water reacts if you change elements like height or angle

The science:

Let’s start with a few definitions.

A meteor is debris, or bits of rock and ice that are left behind from a comet as it starts to melt. Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the trail of debris that is left behind from a comet or astroid. While meteors are traveling so fast that there is usually nothing left by the time it approaches the Earth’s surface, a meteor reaches the surface, then it is called a meteorite.

In this experiment, our small objects (whether it be a rock, ice cube, fruit, nuts or anything else) represent a meteor. The water on the plate, or in a container, represents the surface of something else in space like the moon or even Earth.

As the meteoroid (the small object in this experiment) hit the surface, there was a splash dispersing water in different directions. The splash in this experiment is similar to splash of dust on the surface of the moon is called ejecta. Ejecta helps scientists to figure out the side of the meteoroid based on the amount that is thrown out.

Meteor showers happen around the same time each year, and you can see the Perseid meteor shower through most of August if conditions are right. The best time in the Northern Hemisphere to view the meteor showers is from 2 a.m. until sunrise.

The peak of the meteor showers was August 11-12, where up to 100 meteors per hour were visible. The meteor showers is visible without a telescope, and will be easier to spot if you are able to get away from bright city lights. Sine our moon is in the waning crescent phase, there won’t be too much extra light from it either.

One thing that could block your view of the meteor shower is overnight cloud cover. For the latest forecast and viewing conditions check with NBC4i.com/weather.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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