Alternative definitions (2), class: vernacular (0)
Term: Meteors

A streak of light caused when a meteoroid enters Earth's atmosphere and becomes incandescent, mostly from friction with the air at high speed. Meteors are also referred to as shooting stars. Very bright meteors are called fireball or bolide. Most of visible meteors arise from particles ranging in size from about that of a small pebble down to a grain of sand, and generally weigh less than 1-2 grams. The brilliant flash of light from a meteor is mainly caused by the meteoroid's high level of kinetic energy as it collides with the atmosphere at high speeds (11-72 km/s). The increase in the number of meteors visible toward the end of the night results from the fact that the Earth rotates about its axis in the same direction as it orbits the Sun. This means that the leading edge (morning side) of the Earth encounters more meteoroids than the trailing edge (evening side). In general, 2 to 3 times as many meteors can be seen in the hour or so just before morning twilight, than can be seen in the early evening. Moreover, the numbers of random, or sporadic, meteors vary from season to season, due to the tilt of the Earth on its axis and other factors.

Created 2023.04.16
Last Modified 2023.04.16
Contributed by Ryan McGranaghan