Meteoroid, Meteorite, Meteor???
Meteoroid- small, solid body moving within the solar system.
Meteorite- solid remains of a meteor that falls to the Earth.
Meteor- (shooting star)- bright trail of light created by small solid particles entering the Earth’s atmosphere & burning up
Meteors (meteoroids) are the debris associated with comets or asteroids
When a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere & becomes a meteor, it is traveling at 60-70 km per second!
On a given night (with favorable conditions), you can see 1 meteor every 15 minutes
The typical size of a meteor that produces a visible streak of light ranges from about the size of a grain of sand to the size of a small pebble! (average weight is only around 1 gram!)
Fireballs (large, brilliant meteors) are periodically seen (these may weigh up to several kilograms or more). Bolides are fireballs that explode with a thunderous sound.
As they travel through our atmosphere, meteors collide with air molecules that knock away materials and strip electrons from the meteor…
When the stripped atoms recapture electrons, light is emitted…
The color of the light depends on the temperature and the material being “excited.”
The material or element that makes up a meteor is the main factor that determines the color of its glowing trail…
- Sodium = orange-yellow
- Iron = yellow
- Magnesium = blue-green
- Calcium = violet
- Silicon = red
These are the meteors that can be seen on any given night
They are not associated with any particular meteor shower
They come from random directions in the sky
Heavy displays of meteors that recur from year to year
Caused by small fragments of comet debris entering the earth’s atmosphere at extremely high speeds…when the Earth’s orbit & the comet’s orbit intersect at some point
‘Shower meteors’ come from the same general point in the sky…
The radiant of a shower is the point in the sky from which the meteors appear to come