Meteors

People lie on the ground to view the Perseid meteor shower in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado at an astronomy night event on August 12, 2018.

How to Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower

Known for its 'fireball' meteors, the Perseid shower began on July 14 and will peak in mid-August

The fireball cruising across the sky was most likely a fragment of an asteroid called a 'bolide'.

Fireball Illuminates Skies Across East Coast of Florida

The asteroid fragment weighed 900 pounds and hit Earth's atmosphere at 38,000 miles per hour

A fulgurite made of fused quartz found in Florida

Ancient Lightning May Have Sparked Life on Earth

More than a billion strikes a year likely provided an essential element for organisms

The meteorite is a carbonaceous chondrite. There are only 51 similar samples out of 65,000 meteorites in collections around the world.

Rare Meteorite Found in U.K. Driveway Could Hold Secrets of the Early Solar System

Thousands of people spotted the fireball on February 28, and more fragments may still be scattered in Gloucestershire

A meteorite in the process of being recovered by volunteers in the Antarctic Search for Meteorites program. The shiny fusion crust on this meteorite suggests it may be an achondrite.

Smithsonian Voices

What Antarctic Meteorites Tell Us About Earth's Origins

Each year, Smithsonian scientists collect hundreds of meteorites from Antarctica that reveal details about the origins of Earth and our solar system

The meteor shower is named for the Orion constellation because that’s where the meteors seem to emerge from.

How to See the Orionids Meteor Shower Peak Tonight

The meteor shower reaches peak visibility just before dawn on Wednesday morning but will last until November 7

Bennu is shaped like a three-dimensional diamond and seemingly smooth from far away. OSIRIS-REx is in the foreground of this artist’s replication. The spacecraft will gather a sample from Bennu next week.

Smithsonian Voices

What an Asteroid Could Tell Us About Ancient Earth

Knowing those rocks’ origins will help scientists learn more about the composition of objects in the solar system and asteroid belt

They're here until Thursday!

Perseid Meteor Shower Reaches Peak Starting Tonight

The early mornings of August 11, 12 and 13 are the best times to view the annual summer 'shooting star' display

Smithsonian Geologist Liz Cottrell answers your questions in the second season of the National Museum of Natural History’s YouTube series, “The Dr. Is In.”

Smithsonian Voices

What Is Hotter Than the Sun?

Get the facts from Smithsonian geologist Liz Cottrell in the latest episode of "The Doctor Is In."

New research claims to have found the earliest evidence of a person being killed by meteorite. This photo depicts a meteorite entering Earth's atmosphere during the Leonid meteor shower in November 2002.

Cool Finds

Archivists Find the Oldest Record of Human Death by Meteorite

The 1888 historical account is likely the first ever confirmed case of a human being struck dead by an interstellar interloper

An image of the April 2012 Lyrid meteor shower raining down on Earth, taken from the International Space Station.

How To Watch April’s Lyrid Meteor Shower From Home

Though not as plentiful as the Perseids in summer, the Lyrids can serve up some serious fireballs

A new type of aurora, called auroral dunes, produces horizontal, undulating stripes of green that resemble mounds of sand on a beach.

A New Type of Aurora Ripples Across the Sky in Horizontal Green ‘Dunes’

Originally observed by citizen scientists, the unusual light show might help researchers better understand a poorly studied layer of the atmosphere

Dust-rich outflows of evolved stars similar to the pictured Egg Nebula are plausible sources of the large presolar silicon carbide grains found in meteorites like Murchison.

Meteorite Grains Are the Oldest Known Solid Material on Earth

The oldest dust sample, perhaps 7 billion years old, predates the formation of our planet and the sun

The Quadrantids meteor shower, though fleeting, is famous for its especially bright, colorful "fireballs"

How to Catch the Quadrantids, the First Major Meteor Shower of the 2020s

This cosmic light show will peak in the predawn hours of January 4

In the hubbub after the meteorite strike, Ann Hodges became a minor celebrity. Photographs of her bruise and the damage to her home appeared in Life magazine in an article entitled, “A Big Bruiser From the Sky.”

In 1954, an Extraterrestrial Bruiser Shocked This Alabama Woman

Ann Hodges remains the only human known to have been injured by direct impact of a meteorite

Harvard astronomers theorize that a meteor that struck Earth's atmosphere in 2014 could have been from another solar system, judging by what scientists know about 'Oumuamua, an interstellar object that zipped through our solar system in 2017. (An artist's depiction of 'Oumuamua is seen here.)

An Interstellar Meteor May Have Collided With Earth in 2014

Researchers have identified an object that, they theorize, was traveling too fast to have originated within our solar system

Cool Finds

Scientists Find a Tiny Speck of Comet Inside a Meteorite

The little fragment found in Antarctica was protected from the elements and preserves the chemical signature of the early solar system

Cool Finds

Using Landmine Detectors, Meteorite Hunt Turns Up 36 Space Rocks in Antarctica

The scientists had a hunch that more meteorites were hidden a foot below the ice—they were right

A Meteor Struck the Moon During Sunday’s Total Eclipse

It may be the first time that such an event was documented from Earth

A polarized-light microscopy image (in background) of a section from the Allende meteorite is one-thousandth of a millimeter thin.

The Oldest Material in the Smithsonian Institution Came From Outer Space

Decades after the Allende Meteorite plunged to Earth, scientists still mine its fragments for clues to the cosmos

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