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The word ‘meteor’ comes from the Greek word meteoros which means ‘high in the air’. It therefore makes perfect sense for a rock falling to Earth, because when it makes its shooting-star streak, it certainly is high in the air.
See the fact file below for more information on the meteor or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Meteor worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Meteors are types of space rocks and are different from meteoroids. Meteoroids are pieces of asteroid that broke off, and when a meteoroid comes close enough to Earth and enters Earth’s atmosphere, it vaporizes and turns into a meteor.
- A meteor is a small rock (less than 1 meter across) that is falling through the Earth’s atmosphere after being heated to incandescence by collisions with air molecules in the upper atmosphere. It creates a line or a streak of light across the sky for a moment as it burns up due to its high speed and friction with the atmosphere. Friction creates heat, and enough heat can create a fiery ball of rock that can be seen from the Earth.
- Meteors are usually visible while in the Earth’s mesosphere at between 76 and 120 kilometers (250,000 to 330,000 ft) above the ground.
COMPOSITION AND ORIGIN
- Although meteors have been known since ancient times, they were not known to be an astronomical phenomenon until early in the nineteenth century. Prior to that, they were seen in the West as an atmospheric phenomenon, like lightning, and were not connected with strange stories of rocks falling from the sky.
- In 1807, a meteorite that fell in Weston, Connecticut was investigated by Yale University chemistry professor Benjamin Silliman. Silliman believed the meteor had a cosmic origin, but meteors did not attract much attention from astronomers until the spectacular meteor storm of November 1833. The astronomer Denison Olmsted made an extensive study of this storm, and concluded that it had a cosmic origin. With Giovanni Schiaparelli’s success in connecting the Leonids (as they are now called) with comet Tempel-Tuttle, the cosmic origin of meteors was firmly established. Still, they remain an atmospheric phenomenon, and retain their name “meteor”.
- Though meteors can sometimes contain frozen water and other material from broken-up comets, they tend to be more rocky and metallic. There are three main types of meteors in terms of composition: stones, irons, and stony-irons.
COLORS OF METEOR
- The visible light produced by a meteor may take on various hues, depending on the chemical composition of the meteoroid, and the speed of its movement through the atmosphere. As layers of the meteoroid abrade and ionize, the color of the light emitted may change according to the layering of minerals. Colours of meteors depends on the relative influence of the metallic content of the meteoroid versus the super heated air plasma, which its passage engenders:
- Orange-yellow (sodium)
- Yellow (iron)
- Blue-green (magnesium)
- Violet (calcium)
- Red (atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen)
- A meteor that is larger and brighter than normal is called a fireball; brighter than the brightest planet in our night sky (Venus). If these fireballs break apart or explode during their atmospheric flight – sometimes accompanied by considerable audible sounds – they are called a bolide. Most meteors result in meteoroids no more than a few centimeters in diameter. “Meteor” refers to the flash of light caused by the debris, not the debris itself.
MORE INTERESTING METEOR FACTS
- A meteor shower occurs when a lot of meteors appear in a short time frame.
- There are millions of meteors in the Earth’s atmosphere every day.
- Meteors can become visible as high as 120 kilometers above Earth.
- Meteors can give off various colors when they burn which is associated with their composition.
- Meteors that burn brighter than usual are called fireballs.
- Most fireballs go unseen because they occur over the ocean or during daylight hours.
- Meteors usually burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
- If a meteor produces a sound, called a sonic boom, it is typically heard seconds after the meteor becomes visible.
- Although meteors have existed since ancient times, they were not believed to be from our solar system until 1833.
- A meteor shower is usually the result of debris from a broken comet.
- Usually meteors are the size of pebbles and no larger than a baseball.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about meteor across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Meteor worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the meteors. The word ‘meteor’ comes from the Greek word meteoros which means ‘high in the air’. It therefore makes perfect sense for a rock falling to Earth, because when it makes its shooting-star streak, it certainly is high in the air.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Meteor Facts
- Crossword Puzzle
- Give the Characteristics
- The Formation
- Get A-mazed
- A Shooting Star
- Meteor vs. Meteoroid vs. Meteorite
- Fact or Bluff
- Color Me
- It’s A Meteor
- Star Hunt
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Link will appear as Meteor Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, May 1, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.