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WNIJ and NIU STEAM are partnering to create “The Sound of Science,” a weekly series explaining important science, technology, engineering and math concepts using sound. The feature will air at 1:04 p.m. Fridays as a lead-in to Science Friday.The Sound of Science is made possible by Ken Spears Construction

The Sound of Science - 'Meteors'

NIU STEAM
NIU STEAM

The Sound of Science - 'Meteors'

Jeremy Benson - This is Jeremy Benson from NIU STEAM.

Kristin Brynteson - And this is Doctor Kristin Brynteson - the Director of NIU STEAM.

Jeremy Benson - We're here for The Sound of Science on WNIJ.

Kristin Brynteson - I think of August as meteor season, but the question is Jeremy, why are some meteors random and unpredictable, while others come around every year?

Jeremy Benson - Our annual meteor showers have to do with where the earth is in the solar system. Before we get to that, let's talk about what a meteor actually is. When we see a meteor, we're seeing a chunk of something burning up as it comes through our atmosphere. So before it hits the atmosphere, we call these objects meteoroids. Kind of like an asteroid, something floating around in space. Then the meteor is the actual streak that we see coming through the sky and then once it lands on the ground if there's anything left, we call that a meteorite. So that can happen at anytime during the year whenever something falls through our atmosphere, but during these special times of year when we have the meteor showers we see a lot more of them. And the reason is we are passing through an area of much more density of things to burn up in the atmosphere. In this case, in August we're passing through the remnants of comet swift Tuttle, which creates the annual Perseid meteor shower. So as we move through the remains left behind that from this comet all of those different pieces begin burning up in the atmosphere. Most of them are small enough that they maybe give us a bit of a good light show. But, nothing lands on earth; but, a few of them are big enough that we get the great big fireballs that we can see. Occasionally, we even get one big enough that we can hear it explode into smaller pieces, and we do find a lot more actual meteorites on the ground after these high density episodes.

Kristin Brynteson - Great! So, this month look up?

Jeremy Benson - Look up! The best place to look is anywhere in the sky. As long as you've got a nice dark sky, it doesn't matter what direction you're looking. We'll see them anywhere, but, the darker it is the more of them you'll be able to see.

Kristin Brynteson - You're listening to Sound of Science on WNIJ.

Jeremy Benson - Where you learn something new everyday.

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