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What Is A Shooting Star – Everything You Need To Know

Have you ever wished on a shooting star?

It might come as a shock to you, but shooting stars, also sometimes called falling stars or meteors, are actually not stars at all! Yes, that's true. The beautiful falling star you might have witnessed was merely bits of dust and rock from meteoroids or "space rocks." However, shooting rocks doesn't sound half as fascinating. Right? Hence, shooting stars it is! These meteoroids are so fast that as they approach the earth, they burn up. Yet, if any part of the shooting star does survive and lands on the earth, we call it a meteorite.

Meteor Showers- A Multitude Of Shooting Stars

Every year, a great number of shooting stars fall at approximately the same time, and we call these "showers." These showers of shooting stars are actually caused when the earth encounters a dust trail in its orbit while circling the sun.

These showers are named after the constellations they appear to originate from, or more specifically, the part of the sky that they come from. For example:

The shower Leonids comes from the constellation Leo, and you can observe it around November 15-20 every year.
Whereas, one of the most popular star showers, the Perseids, is radiant in the constellation Perseus and occurs around mid-August.

“Peak time” is when you get to see a lot of shooting stars. If you want to see a shooting star, your best option is the Perseids because, during its peak time, you can see almost 100 stars falling per hour.

shooting star in the sky

What Does A Shooting Star Look Like And How To Identify It?

Shooting stars are a momentary flash of light that initially brightens before fading away. If the star is somehow directly pointed at you, it would appear to be coming from a single point and not as a streak.

The streak of light can be different colours depending on the minerals of the rock. Iron typically glows yellow, silicates radiate red, and copper emits green.

The surviving meteorites don’t emit any visible light. Spectroscopy explains the whys and hows of these colours.

Now, most of us are not astronomers, so it can be hard to distinguish shooting stars from other objects in the sky, say satellites, especially if you don’t know what to look for. Shooting stars appear as streaks of light while satellites don’t leave a trail. Moreover, satellites are also slower than shooting stars, which generally last less than a fraction of a second. Aeroplanes also move slowly, but they usually have a blinking red light that sets them apart. 

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What Does It Mean When You See A Shooting Star?

There is something inexplicably magical about shooting stars, something that makes you feel special simply bearing witness. Seeing a shooting star can mean several things depending on where you come from. Nevertheless, the general idea is that they bring good luck. Still, there are other notions, such as the following:

Make A Wish!

Have you ever wished upon a star?

One of the most popular traditions is to make a wish when you see a shooting star. This stems from the belief that God is paying attention at this time, and thus, whatever your wish for will come true. If you say “money” 3 times, all your financial problems should be out the window. Have an acne problem? Be on the lookout for shooting stars and when you do see one, cover your face with a towel, and it should be all sorted! Although not really backed by any sort of factual data, this is to date a very commonplace concept. Nevertheless, many people claim their wishes have come true this way, so it’s definitely worth a try!

Birth or Death of Wisdom:

In ancient times, many people thought that a shooting star indicated a wise man's birth or death.

Stork Stars :

Ever heard that storks bring babies? Well, so do shooting stars- apparently! Some parts of Britain have believed that shooting stars are actually the souls of babies landing on the earth before birth.

Sinner Souls:

Some cultures also uphold the idea that these stars are the souls of sinners that are moving to heaven after expiating for their sins.

Lucky Stars:

Another idea is that if a shooting star lands towards your right, it brings good luck and if to your left, it signals bad luck. So, if you’re ever in such a situation, you better change positions to avoid any bad luck.

what is a shooting star

Traveller’s Luck:

The sight of a falling star while travelling means good luck. Therefore, chances are whatever you are up to; it will work out in your favour.

Lucky Stars:

The sight of a falling star while travelling means good luck. Therefore, chances are whatever you are up to; it will work out in your favour.

Fallen Human Souls:

The Greeks think that evil souls land on the earth as shooting stars.

Endings or New Beginnings:

Interestingly, shooting stars represent both endings and new beginnings in different parts of the world.

Dangerous Times Ahead!

The Europeans considered shooting stars as a warning of dangerous times ahead. This is similar to the concept of the Native American tribes, which considered meteors war omens.

Decisions Made Easier:

Can’t make up your mind? Be on the lookout for shooting stars! Because if you do find one, it signals success, which means you should go for it.

Shooting star over dessert

Christian Belief:

The Bible dictates that shooting stars are fallen souls or fallen angels and indicate a monumental upheaval.

Islamic Belief:

Muslims believe that spirits or demons sometimes try to catch word of future events by getting close to the heavens. Unfortunately for them, though, the angels are quick to act and throw these burning space rocks to ward them off.

Don’t Point! It’s Bad Luck:

East African Tribes often believe these falling stars are deities. Furthermore, some groups consider pointing towards these stars as rude because pointing is already impolite, and you wouldn’t want to offend the deities, would you? That can only mean bad luck!

Native Americans:

Native American groups have associated shooting stars with travelling spirits of shamans and heroes, feces of stars and even war omens.

Connection With The Universe:

Some groups also think a meteor somehow represents a connection with the universe.

Spiritual Destiny:

Seeing a shooting star is also associated with spiritual destiny in some areas. Something big is probably about to happen, and you're being shown the way so you can act accordingly.

It’s not every day that you see a shooting star, so it's quite natural to feel special when you do happen to come across one. Moreover, if you have seen a shooting star at some point in life or maybe just pictures, you’ll know that there is inherently something mesmerizing about the experience. Although your failure or success should not depend on any external factors, there’s still no harm in wishing upon a star, just for the fun of it! You see, life is fleeting like a shooting star, so if you believe in stars, keep on believing because there’s really no reason to stop!