Meteors and Meteorites

So what exactly is a meteor or meteorite, and what’s the difference? If you don’t know, then let me tell you.

What are meteors? Meteor is actually the scientific name for a shooting star. Shooting stars are the light from cosmic material, emitted as fragments, burning high up in the atmosphere which we often see at night and make a wish upon. The bright flame of a shooting star is caused by atmospheric pressure and friction of the material become hot enough to incandesce.

Meteor Showers. Meteor showers occur when a group of meteors let off small pieces of ice that rapidly burn up in the atmosphere and never make it down to reach Earth’s surface. Meteor showers typically occur after Earth passes through debris that is left off from comets. Two of the most visually appealing meteor showers that are seen each year are the Perseids in August, and the Leonids in November.

What are meteorites? Meteorites are a type of rock which were once part of planets or large asteroids. Meteorites usually contain large amounts of extraterrestrial iron. They can be big or small. Some meteorites derive from small astronomical objects called meteoroids and can sometimes be created after impact of asteroids. When meteorites enter the Earth’s atmosphere, the pressure causes them to heat up and emit light, which them forms the meteor or shooting star we typically see. After a meteorite comes into contact with the Earth’s surface, it is then called a fall, and others that just remain in space are referred to as finds. Meteorites are among the oldest material found on our planet and the oldest things humans have touched from space.

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One Response to Meteors and Meteorites

  1. wiley10 says:

    I didn’t know there was such a difference between meteors and meteorites…interesting! It’s funny to think that we’re just wishing on a big ball of gunk!

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