Shooting starHave you ever stood outside at night and looked up to wish on a shooting star?

They happen all the time, but you can usually only see them when it’s really dark outside and you’re far away from the city lights.

Did you know those are actually meteorites making their way to earth?

Most of them burn up on their way down. If you read If you were around two weeks ago, you would have seen the reason why.

When things move through space, they move very, very fast. When they enter the bubble of atmosphere around our planet, they have to slow down.

But there’s a problem. To understand, try this:

Clap your hands together

Now rub them back and forth across each other really fast.

friction

Are your hands getting hot?

That’s called friction. You can’t rub your hands together fast enough to make them catch on fire, but a meteorite trying to come down to planet Earth rubs against our atmosphere is more than fast enough. They can move so fast that the air around them ignites.

When the air catches fire, most meteorites burn up before they get anywhere close to the ground. But sometimes, they get all the way down.

About 25 years ago this week, a meteorite about the size of a football not only made it to the ground, but it did something only two other meteorites have ever done.

High schooler Michelle Knapp was watching TV at home in New York when she heard a loud crash from in front of her house. When she ran out to see what happened, she noticed there was a hole that went straight through the back of her car.

When she got closer, she saw there was also a hole in the driveway under her car. That’s where they found the meteorite. It was even still warm!

Malibu hit by a meteoriteOther people saw the meteorite as it flew through the sky. They said it made a noise, too, like a sparkler at the Fourth of July.

Scientists have guessed that the meteorite came from an asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars.

The only other two times a meteorite has ever hit a car was once in the 1930s and another time in St. Louis.

So, next time you make a wish on a shooting star, you might want to throw in a little extra wish that it doesn’t hit anything important. And if you hear a loud sparkler coming close, look up!

Wish Upon a Star