A bright trail or streak that appears in the sky when a meteoroid is heated to incandescence by friction with the earths atmosphere. Also called falling star, meteor burst, shooting star.
[Middle English metheour, atmospheric phenomenon, from Old French meteore, from Medieval Latin meterum, from Greek meteron, astronomical phenomenon, from neuter of meteros, high in the air : meta-, meta- + -oros, lifted; akin to eirein, to lift up; see wer-1 in Indo-European roots.]
1. (Astronomy) a very small meteoroid that has entered the earths atmosphere. Such objects have speeds approaching 70 kilometres per second
2. (Astronomy) Also called shooting starfalling star the bright streak of light appearing in the sky due to the incandescence of such a body heated by friction at its surface
[from Medieval Latin meteōrum, from Greek meteōron something aloft, from meteōros lofty, from meta- (intensifier) + aeirein to raise]
1. A bright trail or streak of light that appears in the night sky when a meteoroid enters the Earths atmosphere. The friction with the air causes the rock to glow with heat. Also called shooting star.
2. A rocky body that produces such light. Most meteors burn up before reaching the Earths surface. See Note at solar system.
Usage The streaks of light we sometimes see in the night sky and call meteors were not identified as interplanetary rocks until the 19th century. Before then, the streaks of light were considered only one of a variety of atmospheric phenomena, all of which bore the name meteor. Rain was an aqueous meteor, winds and storms were airy meteors, and streaks of light in the sky were fiery meteors. This general use of meteor survives in our word meteorology, the study of the weather and atmospheric phenomena. Nowadays, astronomers use any of three words for rocks from interplanetary space, depending on their stage of descent to the Earth. A meteoroid is a rock in space that has the potential to collide with the Earths atmosphere. Meteoroids range in size from a speck of dust to a chunk about 100 meters in diameter, though most are smaller than a pebble. When a meteoroid enters the atmosphere, it becomes a meteor. The light that it gives off when heated by friction with the atmosphere is also called a meteor. If the rock is not obliterated by the friction and lands on the ground, it is called a meteorite. For this term, scientists borrowed the -ite suffix used in the names of minerals like malachite and pyrite.
meteor /mitir, r/ n. a small body of matter from outer space that burns up when it enters the earths atmosphere: On clear nights, meteors often can be seen streaking across the sky.