Center for Meteorite Studies

Residents of Tucson, AZ were startled by a sonic boom Tuesday evening!  The event was captured on video, and coincided with the beginning of this year’s Geminid meteor shower.

Unlike most other meteor showers, the Geminid meteor shower is unique in that the particles that create the telltale streaks across the sky during the meteor shower do not originate from a typical comet (all other annual meteor showers are associated with a comet).  The body associated with the Geminid meteor shower, 3200 Phaeton, has characteristics of both comets (highly elliptical orbit) and asteroids (rocky composition).  Scientists speculate that 3200 Phaeton may be an extinct comet with a dusty exterior.  Learn more about 3200 Phaeton and the Geminids here.

Could meteor showers result in meteorites, here on Earth?  Probably not; the material that lights up the sky as meteors is dominated by dust-sized particles that burn up as they enter Earth’s atmosphere.

 


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