From the March 2010 issue

Stephen James O’Meara’s Secret Sky: Strange meteors

May 2010: Unusual shooting star trails have perplexed, and fascinated, for hundreds of years.
By | Published: March 29, 2010 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
May 2010 BJ Hopkins
B. J. Hopkins observed three meteors in the late 19th century that displayed zigzagging or wavy paths, as shown here. Hopkins noted that “for the sake of clearness” the bends in the paths are shown greatly exaggerated.
Stephen James O’Meara collection

We expect meteors to move against the stars in straight lines. But these swift streaks of light, poetically referred to as “shooting stars,” don’t always meet our expectations — at least not in the opinion of some skilled observers.