Shooting stars are the remnants of asteroids, satellites, or other space junk burning up in the Earth's atmosphere. These bits of doomed debris are destroyed by the heat generated by friction with the atmosphere, leaving a trail of supercharged gasses behind them. The actual meteorite is rarely visible, but rather the glowing trail of the superheated atmosphere that it has passed through.
Especially with the increased pollution of the low orbital spaces around Earth, these shooting stars are becoming more common as gravity drags the bits of trash back to the planet that launched it into space in the first place.
These meteorites rarely survive to hit the Earth, but when they do, they can create craters up to 20 times the size of the actual chunk that survives its fall. Meteorites often contain minerals not found elsewhere on Earth and are considered treasures when found.
While shooting stars are thought to be rare, they are actually quite common. Roughly a million bits of space debris burn up in Earth's atmosphere every day.
When Earth passes through asteroid trails in its routine path, showers of these shooting stars can be seen. Some of the most well known are:
There are many myths related to seeing shooting stars. They are often seen as omens of prosperity.
Some people believe that if they say "money" three times while watching the shooting star, they will find prosperity.
Others consider seeing a shooting star as an opportunity to make a wish, giving rise to the phrase, "Wish upon a falling star."
Notes for Tourists
Earth's gravity well is significant. Make sure that you've secured your ship in the station or other safe parking location. There's nothing quite as depressing as realizing that the shooting star is the remnants of your ship.
Do not dump your trash into an Earth orbit. While it might be amusing to know that you've caused the natives to wish upon the falling remnants of last night's dinner, this is still considered pollution and in direct violation of the interdiction order for this planet.
Shooting stars form a bright light that flashes across the sky. Usually these are silent, but on rare occasions they are accompanied by a sonic boom.
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