The sky at night?

Our understanding of our Universe, of meteorite impact events and their effects, is continually evolving.

1 min read
Meteors of the Lyrid meteor shower are seen in the night sky over Burg auf Fehmarn on the Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn, northern Germany, on April 20, 2018. (Image credit: DANIEL REINHARDT/dpa/AFP via Getty Images)

People watch many events at night but star gazers today (April 23, 2023) had a spectacle which hardly occurs visible to the naked eye, except when there is a cloudburst or a “meteor shower “to light up the dawn skies.

I had the occasion to witness a similar “meteor shower,” when I visited Sydney, Australia, on a Backpackers holiday in mid-December 2003, sleeping on the top of a bunk bed at 5 am, during their summer season. It was awesome. The celestial display was something out of this world. The peak came just after the New Moon, which meant views of this once in a lifetime spectacle, was not impeded by moonlight.

We were warned yesterday as late as yesterday by Professor of Physics, Don Pollacco at the University of Warwick of this event in UK, but to my surprise, we could hardly witness it in London, as the sky was overcast with thick cloud.

According to Dr. Pollacco, as the Earth passes through the comet’s orbit any material deposited by the Comet could become “meteors” or shooting stars in the sky. He states: “these bodies are usually the size of dust particles but when they fall into the Earth’s atmosphere, they travel as such speed that they are vaporised. Along the path that the dust particle travels, the gas molecules are superheated and give out light – this is called a Meteor”.

He further stated these meteors are called “Lyrids” and are a regular occurrence every year in the Northern Hemisphere between April 16-25 and approaching summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

How do meteors affect life on Earth? 

The melting of rocks at impact, would have released carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere, resulting in greenhouse warming. This in turn could have increased acid rains, igniting fires. The majority of smaller meteors burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. But the larger ones can leave huge craters in the surface of the planet.

These meteors are literally defined as “space rocks that travel into the Earth’s atmosphere.

We called them “shooting stars”.

The most famous large Asteroid 65 million years ago eliminated the dinosaurs and created the 180 wide crater on the Yucatan Peninsula, off the coast of Mexico, spanning 93 miles and is 12 miles deep. How much of this theory is conjecture is to be researched?

Our understanding of our Universe, of meteorite impact events and their effects, is continually evolving.

Depending on your viewpoint the meteorites have resulted both good and bad outcomes for our planet and for life as we know it. Rare minerals have been exposed to the surface of the Earth for man to exploit, and spectacular views have been displayed for man to enjoy at the “wonder of our planet” thanks to these so called “Shooting Stars”.

We have a duty as custodians of our planet, Earth, to save it from extinction by greed and destruction.

Victor Cherubim

Victor Cherubim is a London-based writer and a frequent columnist of the Sri Lanka Guardian

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