Fun Fact: What’s the difference between a meteoroid, a meteor, and a meteorite?

August 12, 2009 by  
Filed under DailyTarcher, Great Reads.

fallenskyThough we casually use the terms almost interchangeably, meteoroids, meteors, and meteorites all indicate distinct concepts. Much like the terms magma and lava, they specifically denote different states of the same rock. Meteoroids are the small rocks that roam around in space. They can become meteors, the bright flashes of light that accompany the grit and rocks as they burn through the earth’s atmosphere. Meteorites are the rocks that actually survive the journey and lands on earth.

Today, August 12th, is the peak of the annual Perseids meteor shower. The best view of the shower was available in the early hours of the morning, before dawn, but you will have a chance to see the shooting stars make their frenzied journey across the sky again after sunset. The Perseids shower gets its name from the Perseus constellation from which it appears to come from. Because this is the peak of the shower, depending on weather conditions, a lucky observer could see up to 80 meteors fly through the sky per hour!

Source: The Fallen Sky: An Intimate History of Shooting Stars by Christopher Cokinos

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