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Tell Me Why?

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What are Shooting Stars?

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There are many different sizes of rocks that can be found in space. As the Earth revolves around the Sun, it will be exposed to some of the rocks that come in its path. When these rocks collide with the Earth’s atmosphere (at great velocities), they begin to heat up due to air friction. Because of the high temperature produced from the air friction, they start to glow and then burn up. This is what we observe in the sky (at night) which appears to us as a glowing star moving across the sky. This trail of light is short-lived and vanishes in few a seconds. This also happens during daytime but we cannot see it because they are too dim in the sunlight. This glowing (burning) rock is called a meteor or what we commonly call a shooting or falling star. A meteoroid is that debris found outside the atmosphere. A meteoroid can range from the size of a grain of sand up to a boulder. Meteoroids are composed of stone, iron, or a mixture of stone and iron. If a meteor goes through the Earth’s atmosphere without burning up and hit the Earth’s surface (ground), it is called a meteorite. In other words, an incoming meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth's atmosphere as a meteor and impacts the Earth's surface, it is then known as a meteorite. Most meteoroids however burn up when entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Meteorites are of two types; stony and metallic.

At certain times of year, several meteoroids collide with the Earth’s atmosphere. This happen when Earth goes through a region of space that contains a lot of rocks and dust. This debris come from the passage of a comet that breaks up as it comes near the Sun ejecting a lot of dust and chunks of rock in its path. If the comet's orbital path intersects with that of Earth, then the swarm of rocks and dust scattered over the comet entire orbit will then collides with the Earth’s atmosphere. This event will result in what you called a meteor shower. Large numbers of meteors observed in a particular part of the sky are named for the constellation in which they appear to originate. For example, the Aquarids seem to come from the constellation of Aquarius (July 15- August 15 - Delta Aquarids), Leonids will appear to originate in the constellation of Leo (November 15-20), the Perseids from Perseus (July 25 - August 18) and the Orionids from Orion (October 16-27). Scientists (astronomers) used the name of the constellation it appears to come from to name them for easy reference. Meteor showers occur on about the same dates each year.

Therefore, a falling star or a shooting star has nothing whatsoever to do with a star. It is just another name for a meteoroid (interplanetary debris) that burns up as it enters the Earth's atmosphere. That is, air friction vaporizes them into the white-hot streaks of light. This visible path (streak of light) of a meteoroid is a meteor. Thus, shooting stars or the falling stars are meteors.

Related Articles:

Why is space black?
Is there sound in space?
Why is the sky blue in the day and black at night?

Can you hear sound in space?
Is outer space a perfect vacuum?
Why do stars twinkle?

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What is the difference between practice and practise?

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Do not confuse "practice" with "practise". They sound the same and even look similar (except that one is spelled with a “c” and the other with a “s”) but their meanings are different. The word "practice" is a noun, it refers to an act itself, not who is doing it. On the other hand, practise is a verb meaning 'do something repeatedly to improve one skill'. It is a systematic training by multiple repetitions (rehearsing a behavior or engaging in an activity several times repeatedly) in order to improve or mastering that skill. To put this much simply, practise is a verb (doing word) and practice a noun (thing).

It should be noted that in American English, both the noun and the verb are spelled "practice". Both forms are however used in the British English whereas the distinction is almost obsolete in the U.S. As a matter of fact, in other English speaking countries (Australia, Canada, UK, Ireland, and South Africa), "practice" is the noun and "practise" the verb. It is therefore important to make sure that use the right version for the right audience.

Here are some examples below using the word "practice" (a noun) and "practise" (a verb):

Examples using the word “practice” (noun)
If you want to speak French well, you need to practice.
I'm afraid I'm rather out of practice.
It is their practice to give annual raises.
A hard theory to put into practice.
I can't see how your plan is going to work in practice.
The practice of the law.
It is not the local practice to wear shorts to dinner.
Practice makes perfect.
It seemed like a good idea before we started, but in practice it was a disaster.
Officially, Mary’s in charge, but in practice Susan runs the office.
This is a cruel practice which should be banned immediately.
I need to get some more practice before I take my driving test.
Are you coming to football practice this evening?
My singing practice has been a little lax, lately.
It is the usual practice of employees there to wear neckties only when meeting with customers.
It is good practice to check each door and window before leaving.
She refused to play the piano, because she was out of practice.
She ran a thriving medical practice.
He will need lots of practice with those lines before he performs them.
The doctor wanted his daughter to take over his practice when he retired.
She plans to set up practice in her hometown.

Examples using the word “practise” (verb)
The new government has promised all citizens the right to practise their religion.
Why don't you practise what you preach?
I'm quite good at tennis but I need to practise my serve.
She practises the violin every day.
She practised medicine for twenty years before she became a writer.
I practise the piano.
I need to practise my English.
You should practise more.
I need to start practising my singing every day.
They are practising for the Olympic games.
John is practising golf.
A practising doctor.
She is a confident and practised speaker who always impresses her audience.

If you are having difficulty of remembering the difference between "practise" and "practice" then you can try using anyone one of the three methods given below. You should be able to use one as an easy way of remembering the difference between them:

i. Practice with a C is a noun, and practise with an S is a verb.

ii. Practice is a noun. It is thing because it has the word ice in it which is a cold, wet and slippery thing and practise is a verb - a doing word. It is not a noun because ise is not a thing.

iii. Practice is a noun. It as the word ice in it, which is a noun. Practise is a verb. It has the word is in it, which is a verb.

So remember in the United Kingdom, as well as, in other English speaking countries “practice” is the noun and “practise” the verb; but in the U.S. the spelling “practice” is mostly used for both the noun and the verb.

Related Articles:
What’s the difference between the words its and it's?

When do you use "a" or "an"?
What is the difference between "learnt" and "learned" ?
When do you use the word “fish” and “fishes”?

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Why is space black?

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Where there is no light then there is darkness. This means that a surrounding without light would be black in color. Our experience here on Earth (one common example, night and day) tells us that the color black (or darkness) indicates the absence of light. However, space (or outer space) contains countless of bright shining stars including our Sun. Our Sun is not even the largest or brightest star in the universe, very far from it. Space as we can see, including our solar system, is surrounded with light. In spite of this however, space still remains (looks) pitch black.

On Earth however, we have what is called daylight. Daylight is the time after sunrise and before sunset and is the condition of brightness created by the rays of the sun. This brightness is a combination of all direct and indirect sunlight. Daylight produces a visual sensation that allows us to see our entire surrounding (environment) in its form and colors, such as, the beautiful blue sky, puffy white clouds, flowers of all variety and colors, as well as, all the other beautiful objects surrounding us in our day to day life in our environment.

The earth is surrounded by a gaseous envelope called the atmosphere. Apart from the layer of gases , the atmosphere also contains moisture (water droplets) and dust particles. The light from the sun hitting these "obstacles" in the atmosphere (air) causes light to reflect and refract. The reflected (bouncing off) and the refracted (deflected when the light go through a substance) rays illuminates our surroundings allowing one the power to perceive by sight (see) the world in its splendid colors.

Space on the other hand, is black in spite of the numerous star presence. Space contains comic dust and elements like hydrogen and helium atoms for every cubic meter (or per cubic centimeter). This however means that its gas molecules density is so low that it is practically nonexistent - a vacuum. This means that all the light in space will travel in a straight line without any dispersion (refraction and reflection). This is similar to a laser pointer where you see the spot but not the beam. This is due to the fact that the light does not go to where your eye is, it is not dispersed. The light goes directly to the spot where the pointer is pointing. Therefore, you can only see spots of lights in space from its source but not the illumination of its surroundings. Light makes its way to our eyes because you are looking at something bright but the light itself is not scattered. Space has no atmosphere (almost a perfect vacuum) which means there is nothing for the light to become "scattered" on. As such, there are no colors for you to see and therefore outer space always looks black.

Related Articles:
Is there sound in space?
Why is the sky blue in the day and black at night?
Can you hear sound in space?
Is outer space a perfect vacuum?
Why do stars twinkle?

How does sound travel?
What is Sound?
What is the Kinetic Molecular Theory of Matter?
What are the Three States of Matter?

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