The extraordinary program of Christmas 2019 events continues at the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria. On Friday, December 6th, at 5.00 pm, the physicist Marco Romeo, an expert of the Pythagoras Planetarium, will lead the public on a wonderful “walk” under a “Rain of shooting stars”. In his conversation, in Piazza Paolo Orsi, he will retrace the scientific history of the phenomenon, presenting the most famous “meteor showers” in history.
The scientific director of the Planetarium, Angela Misiano, thus presents the meeting: “Since ancient times, the ‘fires of Heaven’ have been fascinating humanity Aristotle had defined as atmospheric the phenomenon of ‘falling stars’; for this reason they are called meteors. For Seneca, the friction of the air causes weaker lights and the stars drag flying behind them a ‘hair’. Only since the Renaissance – the scholar continues – we have started a study of that from the scientific point of view. Today we know that shooting stars are nothing but fragments of comets, which fall and ignite in the impact with the earth’s atmosphere, producing the luminous scene we observe”.
Professor Misiano reported that a meteor shower, later called the Leonids (from its point of origin in the constellation of the Lion) was observed in 1833; today, it corresponds to the passage of the comet 55P / Tempel-Tuttle. The observations of that event signaled the first in-depth studies on a possible astronomical origin of the phenomenon. Giovanni Virgilio Schiaparelli, the director of the Astronomical Observatory of Brera from 1862, afeter testified to the link between comets and meteor showers.