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Meteors
describe the nature and origin of meteoroids, meteorites and micrometeorites
demonstrate an understanding of meteors, fireballs and annual meteor showers
relate the occurrence of annual meteor showers to cometary orbits and account for their apparent divergence from a radiant point
On any clear night one can observe several meteors an hour if one is patient. The are fragments of rock that burn up
as they enter the Earth's atmosphere at very high speed. Larger ones may actually explode in a spectacular fireball
but these are rare.
During a meteor shower, which may last several days, large numbers of meteors may fall originating from the same
point in the sky called the radiant. The shower is usually named after the constellation from which they originate, e.g.
in early august every year is the Perseid shower coming from Perseus in which, at its peak, there is over one meteor
per minute.
As they occur on a yearly basis this suggests that a shower occurs when the Earth is passing through a particular
point in space, e.g. when it is passing through the debris left behind by a comet.
Here are some definitions you should learn
Meteoroid - a ball of rock flying through space. Smaller than an asteroid. Most are about the size of a pebble. Some
are what's left of comets. Some are made when asteroid collide into each other and break up.
Meteor - a meteoroid that has entered the Earth's atmosphere and is burning up due to friction. Often called a
shooting star they leave fiery trail.
Meteorite - a meteor that lands on Earth.
Fireball
This is a very
bright meteor.
Brighter than
magnitude -4
which is about
the brightness of
Venus.
You are very
lucky if you see
one of these
Micrometeorites
These are
microscopic
meteorites, tons
of which fall on
the Earth each
day.
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