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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Crash Course Astronomy: Meteors!

By Phil Plait

I’m not gonna lie to you: This is one of my favorite episodes of Crash Course Astronomy we’ve done so far. It was a lot of fun, and this is just such a fantastic topic to talk about. So here you go: “Meteors, Meteoroids, and Meteorites, Oh My!”

Those meteorites I held up in the intro are mine; they’re examples of Sikhote Alin, an iron meteorite that rained debris over Russia in 1947. They’re my favorite; they come in all sorts of exotic and bizarre shapes, and their color is gunmetal blue-black. They’re a bit pricey, but you can buy them for yourself. I suggest perusing the store of my friend Geoff Notkin (you may have seen him on the Discovery Channel’s Meteorite Men TV show). He has great samples.

I’ve written about meteors about 74 bazillion times. If you’re looking for a generic meteor shower viewing guide, I’ve written them for several showers. Here’s one from the 2014 Geminids. I’ve written about the Russian Chelyabinsk impact several times, including the night it hit, a follow-up a year later featuring what we’ve learned, a cool video where you can see a small chunk hitting a frozen lake, and another video where they hauled a big chunk out of a lake.

I also wrote about the Perseid that astronaut Ron Garan saw from the space station … including a calculation for how often the space station gets hit by a meteor on average.

You can see why I had so much fun making this episode. I’m endlessly fascinated by meteors, and hopefully, now, you are too. 

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