By Sean Alexander

The Physics of a meteor Shower

We've all seen a meteor shower, but do you understand the physics behind it?  A giant rock hurdling through space?  Nope.  It's actually dust burning up in the atmosphere.   Most meteors are no larger than a grain of rice.  The most interesting thing about a meteor shower is that the meteors are mostly stationary relative to the sun.  It's a cloud of dust that sits at the same spot in space all year long.  When we see a meteor shower the Earth is passing through the dust cloud on it's orbit around the sun.   That's why showers occur at the same time each year.  So when you see a meteor streak across the sky, you are not observing the meteors motion, but the motion of the Earth through space on it's journey around the sun.  There is an epic meteor shower tonight, be sure to check it out!  And when you see a meteor think of it as a way of experiencing the enormous speed of the Earth orbiting the sun.  About 67,000 miles per hour.

-Sean Alexander

CEO and Founder of Alexander Mathematics & Physics Tutoring

Become a physics expert at Alexander Tutoring, learn more here:

NASA Meteor Shower


  • Sean Alexander

    COMMAND PILOT, OWNER Sean has been a professional educator for 15 years and has taught math, physics, and astronomy at all levels.  His experience ranges from working at a high school for severe learning differences to teaching advanced physics at Stanford.  After completing his graduate work in theoretical physics Sean founded Alexander Tutoring, with the mission of revealing the deep connections between math and nature to as many students as possible. 

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