From the June 2010 issue

I saw a shooting star tonight; as it burnt up in the atmosphere, it became a brilliant green. I have seen only yellow and white ones before. What causes the green color? Or could I have seen space junk burn up?

Matt Pearson, Mildura, Australia
By | Published: June 28, 2010 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
August 2010 green meteor
A green meteor is a rare sight. This November 1998 Leonid meteor gets its color from a combination of effects, including magnesium in the meteroid’s composition.
Rick Schmidt

The colors of meteors or fireballs are due to the light emitted from the atoms that make up a meteoroid, as well as the atoms and molecules in the air. Seeing a green meteor indicates magnesium composition.