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Some Astromonical Definitions


Due to the recent cosmic coincidence, I found I (and probably some of people) am confused by some of the terms, so I looked up an astronomical glossary to find out what exactly they meant.

  • Asteroid:
    1. A small rocky body that orbits a star
    2. A small planet-like body of the Solar System
  • Meteor:
    1. Fragment or particle that enters the Earth’s atmosphere and is then destroyed through friction, becoming visible as this occurs as a momentary streak of light.
    2. A “shooting star” – the streak of light in the sky produced by the transit of a meteoroid through the Earth’s atmosphere; also the glowing meteoroid itself.
  • Meteorite:
    1. Object that enters the Earth’s atmosphere and is too large to be totally destroyed by friction before it hits the surface. Meteorites may in some way be connected with asteroids.
    2. A solid-body portion of a meteor that has reached Earth’s surface. Meteorites are divided into three main classes: aerolites (stony meteorites), siderites (iron meteorites), and siderolites (stony iron meteorites). Most meteorites are high-density objects related to asteroids.
  • Meteoroid:
    1. A small particle orbiting the Sun in the vicinity of Earth.

Source: CalTech Astronomical Glossary

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