If you look up at the stars in the night sky perhaps you have noticed that they seem to twinkle. This is caused by substance in the air between the star and the Earth. The unsteady air bends the light from the star, and then it seems to twinkle.

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It is now believed that hydrogen atoms in the very core of the star burn to form helium. When this happens, it sets free energy which flows steadily to its surface. Stars should be able to continue radiating this energy for many millions of years to come.

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Shooting stars, or meteors, are streaks of light that cross the night sky, although they can only be seen for one or two seconds. They are caused when a solid piece of rock called a meteorid plunges through the Earth’s atmosphere, burning up due to air friction. If, as rarely happens, a small fragment reaches the Earth, it is called a meteorite.

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Sometimes these fragments of rock move through space as a meteor swarm or stream. They move in regular paths, and the larger fragment become detached and travel individually.