• Question: What is the closest meteor to us?

    Asked by peter296 to Simon, Ollie, Min, Jean on 29 Apr 2020.
    • Photo: Ollie Otter

      Ollie Otter answered on 29 Apr 2020:

      Hi Peter296,

      Meteors are also known as shooting stars, they are dust particles that burn up when they enter the atmosphere from space so they will all be more or less at the same distance from us. If a meteor is big enough that it won’t burn up completely it will crash down to the Earth’s surface, then it’s called a meteorite.

      Maybe you are talking about asteroids or comets?

      Asteroids are space rocks that orbit the sun roughly between Mars and Jupiter, but some of them have orbits that bring them close to earth. Here’s a website that tells you where the closest asteroids are:

      Comets are giant balls of ice and dust that usually orbit around the sun beyond Neptune but some of them have very elongated elliptical orbits that will bring them close to us. When they get close the sun starts heating them and some of the ice starts to melt. That’s how they get very long tails and will become so bright that we can sometimes see them with the naked eye. Here’s a website that shows where comets can be seen:
      My favourite comet was Hale-Bopp, that one came close in 1997, it was visible for weeks and so bright you could even see it from the city!