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Science Projects for Kids: The Incredible Universe

Shooting Stars

Nothing is as unexpected and breathtaking as shooting stars, or meteors. Find out when and where you can scan the skies for meteor showers in this science project for kids: the incredible universe.

Track meteors across the sky.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Track shooting stars, or meteors, across the sky.

Space is chock-full of tiny planet-like spheres known as asteroids. That is, they're tiny by space standards; a very small asteroid might fit inside your house.

Millions of fragments from asteroids can fall into the Earth's atmosphere. When one of these fragments comes close to Earth and burns up, it makes a streak of light that can be seen in the night sky. This streak is called a meteor or a shooting star.

Most of these fragments burn up completely in the atmosphere. But once in a while one lands on Earth. When that happens, it's called a meteorite.

Sky-watchers have learned that there are certain times and places when lots of meteors can be seen. These events are called meteor showers, and they're worth staying up late for.

What You'll Need:

  • A clear night sky -- and maybe an afternoon nap
  • A spot away from city lights
  • Star map

Step 1: Check the chart below to find the next time of year when you can see meteor showers.

Step 2: Use a star map to find the places listed.

Step 3: Find a place away from city lights on a very clear night. (The best time to see meteors is after midnight.)

Step 4: Be very still, watch the sky, and see what happens.

Where It Can Be Seen in the Sky
January 1-3 Eastern sky, between Bootes and Draco.
This is called the Quadrantid meteor shower,
and it's the flashiest one of the year!
April 20-22
Northeastern sky, between Vega and Hercules.
May 4-6
Eastern sky, to the southwest of the Square
of Pegasus.
August 10-13
Northeastern sky, around Perseus. Called
the Perseids, this is the most famous meteor
shower and is second only to the Quadrantids
in the number of meteors.
October 20-23
Eastern sky, between Orion and Gemini.
November 3-10
Northeastern sky, between Taurus, Auriga
and Perseus.
December 10-12
Eastern sky, in Gemini.

Go to the next page to see how you can be a space explorer with a mobile you make yourself.

For more fun science projects for kids, check out: