Le stelle cadenti spiegate ai bambini
Nel mese di agosto, durante la notte di San Lorenzo, moltissime persone osservano il cielo con la speranza di scorgere una stella cadente ed esprimere un desiderio che possa realizzarsi.
Children’s curiosity pushes us to explain to them the nature of those light trails in the sky, perhaps using simple, easy-to-understand words capable of giving comprehensive answers to their questions.
These are not only shooting stars, but also comets or meteors, i.e. mainly rocky bodies, much smaller than the planets we know or the Sun, but large enough to be observed even from our planet. Comets, for example, are mostly made up of snow and ice and rocky materials that follow paths similar to ellipses.
In their initial path, comets are quite far from the Sun and move in the shape of large snowballs and other components, as they get closer to the Sun they begin to melt and release particles and materials that form a sort of cloud which the solar wind pushes backwards giving rise to the famous luminous trail.
The shooting stars
We could start by saying that, in reality, shooting stars are not real stars, but very large spheres or balls made up of gas and pieces of rock which, passing far from the Earth, leave these fiery luminous trails and can be seen up to to several thousand to the naked eye.
“Shooting stars” are therefore meteors made up of dust, fragments of rock and many other materials which, passing near the Earth at very high speed, enter the atmosphere and begin to crumble, becoming very hot and leaving the luminous trail that we are used to seeing in sky.
Many of these stars can be seen especially in summer, towards the end of July and almost the entire month of August. This happens because the Earth, in revolving around the Sun, passes through many of these light trails on its path, offering the possibility of observing this interesting phenomenon.
Children may also be interested in the legends circulating about shooting stars, making our explanation increasingly engaging. You can tell them, for example, that, according to our religion, the myth of these stars is linked to the tears shed by Saint Lawrence, who every year remembers his death by crying “tears of stars” and showing all his sadness for the bad things that happen on Earth.
Meteorites are nothing more than small pieces of meteors that surpass the layer of the atmosphere, “surviving”, to arrive on Earth with the appearance of burnt rocks, with a dark color and considerable weight. The composition of a meteorite is basically made up of ferrous and rocky components. They are fragments of great interest to scientists as they are bodies external to the Earth and the subject of frequent studies.
The choice of a serene and special context for observing the stars together with the children could be a beach at night, a short distance from the sea or a green meadow on a hill or mountain. If there is any difficulty in reaching these places, as an alternative you could think of some event organized for the occasion in the city or at a planetarium. The weather should do the rest, the ideal would obviously be a clear sky and a moon that may not be full.
Despite the summer period, it is always useful to bring a blanket with you to better observe the phenomenon of “shooting stars” and protect yourself from the humidity of the evening and also a comfortable deckchair to be more comfortable while staring at the night sky and making a wish.