This weekend, a spectacular meteor shower may dazzle, but as astronomer Mark Thompson reports, never bet on the Draconids.
No, shooting stars aren't "stars," they're meteors.
The October Draconid Meteor Shower may dazzle the world's skies this weekend.
The Draconids are the dusty debris deposited in space by Comet Giacobini-Zinner Many of us grew up with the idea that we should make a wish when we see a shooting star. As a child there was something quite magical about the event, but the reality is very different.
Shooting stars, as you probably already know, have nothing to do with stars, instead they are just tiny bits of rock burning up high in the atmosphere, flashing across the sky as they fall to Earth.
They are more accurately called "meteors" but if they survive their fiery plunge and land on Earth they are called "meteorites." Earth encounters bits of interplanetary debris like this all the time but a few times each year we experience a shower of meteors and, like the October Draconid Meteor Shower this coming weekend, they bring with them the possibility of being spectacular.