Have you ever seen a shooting star? Sometimes late at night you can see a streak of light blaze across the sky, as in the picture at right.
Is a shooting star really a star? Not really. Real stars (including our sun) are giant balls of fiery gas. Shooting stars are actually much smaller than real stars, and they’re made of rock or metal. They look like stars because they fly through the air so quickly that they become hot and glow. You can see how this works by rubbing your hands together. The same force that makes a meteor hot as it flies through the air is what makes your hands hot when you rub them together. This is called friction.
Scientists have a special name for shooting stars: they call them meteors.
You don’t have to worry about being hit by a meteor. Most meteors burn up before they hit the earth.