Meteoroids and Shooting Stars
Based in Westbury, NY, Valerie Varnuska has an appreciation for the outdoors and enjoys exploring the natural landscape around her. Valerie Varnuska also maintains a strong interest in stargazing and enjoys learning about the principles of astronomy that define natural phenomena across the universe.
Seeing a shooting star is a memorable experience for stargazers of all ages. Despite the name, however, this phenomenon does not actually involve any stars. The streaks of light are due to meteoroids, which are composed of tiny rock and dust particles that burn up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere. The trail of light that forms is called a meteor, while remaining objects that survive entry into the atmosphere and land on terra firma are known as meteorites.
Meteor showers are common at specific times of the year when the Earth, during its orbit of the Sun, passes through a debris trail that has been left behind by an orbiting comet. These showers take their names from the constellation that inhabits the area of the night sky where the shooting stars appear. For example, the Leonid Meteor Shower originates in the part of the sky inhabited by Leo.
A resident of Westbury, NY, Valerie Varnuska likes to enjoy the outdoor environment while taking part in activities such as hiking, walking, and stargazing. In addition to exploring nature trails near Westbury, NY, Valerie Varnuska holds a keen interest in astronomy and learning about new astrological discoveries. Recently, NASA discovered 95 new planets beyond our solar system.
The newly discovered exoplanets (planets existing outside our solar system) were observed using NASA’s Kepler telescope and vary from Earth- to Jupiter-sized. The telescope located the planets while orbiting the earth, providing views of different parts of the sky along with recordings of fluctuations in light levels caused by exoplanets crossing in front of the stars they orbit.
Researchers are analyzing data provided by the telescope to differentiate between fluctuations caused by the movement of exoplanets and those caused by other sources.
Exoplanet explorers hope to discover other Earth-sized planets that may have the capacity to host life. Future space missions intended to help find such planets include the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.
Valerie Varnuska of Westbury, NY, is passionate about the natural world. Fascinated by the beauty of the night sky, Valerie Varnuska has a strong interest in astronomy and natural phenomenon beyond the earth.
A recent article on Space.com examined the development of constellations, the naming of a group of stars that form a recognizable pattern, which began formally in 2nd-century BC Greece with Hipparchus’ 48 classical constellations. These constellations had their roots in ancient Babylon and included some obvious star clusters that had been independently recognized by cultures around the world.
Several decades later, Ptolemy created the Almagest catalog of constellations, which was passed down virtually intact to modern Europeans. Additions included 14 new constellations visible only to seafarers as they explored the Southern Hemisphere. In the 1930s, a formal set of 88 constellations was codified worldwide through the efforts of the International Astronomical Union.
An art enthusiast, Valerie Varnuska of Westbury, NY, appreciates dance, music, literature, and opera. Additionally, Valerie Varnuska maintains a keen interest in science, particularly astronomy.
While the total solar eclipse of 2017 is now part of astronomical history, 2018 will have its own remarkable astronomical events for stargazers to look forward to. Starting in March, each of the five planets that can be seen by the naked eye — Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter — will be visible after sunset. First to appear will be Mercury the week of March 15, followed by Venus making itself visible from March 18 to October. Jupiter will begin to shine brightly on May 9 in the southeast sky, and, over a month later on June 27, Saturn will be visible for the entire summer.
A favorite for many starwatchers, Mars will make its appearance on July 27 at a distance of 35.8 million miles from Earth. This is the closest the planet has been to Earth since 2003.