How do meteorites differ from shooting stars?

When you see a streak of light in the night sky, it might be a shooting star or a meteor. Both are pieces of space rock, but they have different origins.

A shooting star is actually a small comet. As a comet orbits the Sun, it warms up and releases gas and dust. This dust and gas forms a tail that points away from the Sun. When a comet comes close to Earth, we can see its tail as a streak of light in the sky.

A meteor is a piece of space rock that falls to Earth. Most meteors are much smaller than shooting stars, and they don’t have tails. Meteoroids are pieces of space rock that are even smaller than meteors.

When a meteoroid enters Earth’s atmosphere, it starts to heat up. The friction of the air makes the meteoroid glow, and it turns into a meteor. Most meteors are so small that they vaporize before they hit the ground. But if a meteor is big enough, it can survive the trip through the atmosphere and hit the ground. We call these meteorites.

So, to sum it up, shooting stars are actually small comets with tails, while meteors are small pieces of space rock. Meteorites are larger pieces of space rock that make it all the way to Earth’s surface.

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