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Texas ISD School Guide
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Short Stories for Teachers

What is a Meteor?
By:Alexander Sutton

A meteor is an event that occurs when a meteoroid or an asteroid enters the Earth's atmosphere and becomes very visible. This often occurs in the mesosphere is at an approximate range of 75km to 100km.

The visibility of a meteor is due to the heat produced by the ram pressure created upon entry to the atmosphere. The majority of meteors are small which means that many meteors do not create enough ram pressure to show visible signs when entering the atmosphere. A meteor is more of a visible event than an object itself.

A fireball is a name for a extremely bright meteor. A fireball is defined by the International Astronomical Union as "a meteor brighter than any of the planets," which is a magnitude -4 or greater.

A bolide has no exact definition and is synonymous to a fireball. The term is often used amongst geologists who use the term in reference to a very large impactor. Astronomers, on the other hand, tend to use the term to mean an exceptionally bright or detonating fireball.

A meteorite is a portion of a meteoroid that survives the actual passage through the atmosphere and impact to the earth without being destroyed. Meteoroids are often found in association with impact craters, though the impactor may be vaporized leaving nothing behind.

Meteoric dust is what is left over from the when a meteor enters the atmosphere. Meteor particles can stay in the Atmosphere for several months. These particles affect the climate by scattering radiation into the upper atmosphere.

Alex Sutton has worked in the telescopes profession for nearly 11 years. For more information please visit telescopes http://www.coolscopes.com/telescopeslearningcenter.html

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