Many times we see in the sky that most of the meteor shower trails vanish when they are about to strike the earth several feet above the ground. Why does this happen? They could strike the earth's surface (still emitting light until they strike).

A meteor

Pic source: https://i.sstatic.net/tWEeQ.jpg


1 Answer 1


Only very few meteors actually make it anywhere near the surface of Earth; most burn up 75–100 km above the surface. From your point of view, however, the curvature of Earth's surface may make it look as if they get much closer, and even fall below the horizon. But depending on where you live, the horizon often has quite a lot more background light (e.g. from cities far away). That means that when they get near the horizon, which you may interpret as "several feet above the ground", the seemingly disappear.


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